updated 4/3/2005 10:17:57 PM ET 2005-04-04T02:17:57

A series of bomb blasts on Sunday hit a Western-owned department store chain and a regional airport, killing at least two people and wounding dozens in southern Thailand, officials said.

The three explosions occurred in Songkhla, a province just north of where an Islamic insurgency has been active since early last year, and the bombings raised the possibility that the militants could be expanding their field of operations.

Songkhla Gov. Somporn Chaibongyang said two people were killed by an explosion at Hat Yai airport, the main gateway to Thailand’s far south. Another bomb exploded at the Carrefour department store in Hat Yai town, the governor said.

Thai media said as many as five people had died, including three at Carrefour, part of a French-owned chain, but the reports could not be confirmed.

A third bomb was detonated in front of a hotel in the city of Songkhla, on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand not far from Hat Yai, but the governor said he had no reports of casualties from that explosion.

Television footage on Sunday showed dazed and bloodied people at Hat Yai airport being treated by paramedics. Witnesses said the blast took place in a part of the terminal that serves both as a greeting point for arriving passengers and check-in area for some smaller airlines.

Dr. Pairoj Waratip, deputy director of Hat Yai hospital, told The Associated Press that at least one person died and about 54 people were wounded, including an American woman and a French woman, both of whom suffered minor injuries.

Col. Supasin Issarakul na Ayutthaya, the police commander for Hat Yai, said the injured also included two Malaysians and two people from Brunei.

Pairoj was unable to give further details of the foreigners’ identities and did not explain the discrepancy in the reported number of dead. The casualties were being treated at several different hospitals.

The health ministry’s Narenthorn emergency center also reported just one fatality.

Gen. Chaiyasit Shinawatra, the Thai military supreme commander, said the airport bomb had been left in a bag by an unidentified man in the waiting area.

All three explosions took place between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Nobody claimed responsibility for the blasts, but they could be linked to the sectarian violence in Thailand’s Muslim-dominated southernmost provinces, which has claimed almost 800 lives in the past 15 months.

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