BANGKOK, Oct 21: A parcel bomb exploded in a Thai provincial government office near Bangkok on Monday, killing two policemen and injuring at least four people, police said.

The government was quick to label the blast a criminal, and not a terrorist, act saying it was the result of a personal dispute.

The bomb exploded while being examined by police at a social security office in Nakhon Pathom, 60kms northwest of the capital, a police officer said.

One officer was killed instantly and another died of severe wounds in hospital a few hours later.

The officer said police had been called to the office after a member of staff became suspicious about a package. Three of the wounded were police officers.

“It was a grenade put in a cardboard box inside a parcel. We believe the motive may have been some personal conflict,” another policeman told Reuters by telephone. He declined to elaborate.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the blast was not a terrorist act.

“Please do not write it in such a way that turns it into a terrorist act...it was basically a criminal act by nature, not a terrorist act,” Thaksin told reporters.

Interior Minister Wan Muhamad Noor Matha told reporters the blast was not politically motivated.

“This is not linked to international terrorism. It is a criminal act carried out through the postal system...the device went off by accident,” the minister said.

Defence Minister Thammarak Isarangura said the bomb was motivated by a personal conflict.

Staff at the social security office told a radio station they had received a telephone call from an unidentified man some days ago warning of a bomb.

There has been no recent history of attacks on government offices in central Thailand.

AUSTRALIA: A man armed with several handguns walked into an Australian university lecture room on Monday, shot dead two students and wounded five before he was overpowered by the victims’ classmates, police said.

The two dead men were Asian in appearance and the shooting came amid heightened nervousness in Australia a week after bombs killed 180 tourists, many from Australia, in the popular Indonesian holiday island of Bali to Australia’s north.

“We’ve confirmed now that there are two men of Asian appearance both dead,” a police official said.

“There are a further five that have been taken by both air and road ambulance to various hospitals around Melbourne.”

A student, 21-year-old Michelle Button, said the gunman was also of Asian appearance.

Police said a man had been taken into custody and was being questioned over the shooting on the sixth floor of a building at the Monash University campus on the outskirts of Australia’s second largest city.

There was no indication of a possible motive, although police superintendent Trevor Parks said it was unlikely to be an act of terrorism.

“It would appear at this stage that it is not an incident that would be related to any sort of terrorist activity,” Parks told reporters.

Parks said students who tackled the gunman had probably averted a much higher death toll.

“The students who actually tackled this person have done a tremendous job and I think we’ve been saved from further...death or injury because there were a number of handguns present in the classroom,” Parks said.

“If he hadn’t been tackled I think we would have had an absolutely tragic circumstance on our hands,” he said.

An ambulance spokeswoman had earlier said eight people had been injured, some suffering shotgun wounds. Sharkie said the only weapons used had been handguns.—Reuters