Bangkok Bombing Suspect a Foreigner, Arrest Warrant Says

By BenarNews staff
150819-TH-BOMBING-620.jpg Thai police check security at bars in the tourist area of Bangkok, Aug. 19, 2015.

Thai officials believe the main suspect identified to date in the Bangkok shrine bombing is foreign and did not act alone.

The South Bangkok criminal court on Wednesday issued an arrest warrant for a “foreign man” and linked it to a forensic police sketch of an individual caught on security camera leaving a backpack at the Erawan Shrine moments before a bomb blast there.

The unnamed suspect is charged with premeditated murder and possession of unlicensed weapons in connection with the Aug. 17 explosion, which killed 20 and injured 125.

Lt. Gen. Prawut Thavornsiri, a spokesman for the National Police Bureau, told reporters the suspect is likely still in Thailand.

After leaving the shrine, “he hired a motorcycle taxi to take him to Sla Daeng intersection, but there was no evidence that he has travelled abroad,” he said.

The security video shows two possible accomplices standing near the man, who left the shrine shortly after he did, Prawut said.

“It’s a network”

Police are reviewing older footage from security cameras surrounding the shrine, a beloved landmark located at a major intersection in an upscale part of Bangkok, and popular with both locals and foreigners who pay respect to the Hindu god Brahma and ask for favors.

“We will track back one to three days before the attack because any perpetrators must observe the target before executing the plan,” national police chief Somyos Poompanmuang told reporters.

Police have placed a one million baht (U.S. $28,145) bounty on the suspect’s head.

"If citizens or anyone can give us information or clues that lead to the arrest of this man, I have set a reward of one million baht," the Associated Press quoted Somyot as saying.

"He didn't do it alone, for sure. It's a network," he said.

“Now in danger”

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-Cha dismissed speculation in local media that the bombing was carried out by Uyghurs exacting revenge for the recent forced repatriation to China of 109 Uyghur refugees.

“It is not possible [Uyghurs] used violence to exact revenge. If so, there must be someone coming out to claim responsibility. Don’t prematurely jump to conclusions,” he said.

He appeared more concerned that the attack was related to Thailand’s internal affairs.

“If these bombs were politically inspired, the country is now in danger. And if these people remain at large, there will be more threats, and we need to focus on the political arena,” he said.

Small bomb blasts have occurred in Bangkok periodically in recent years during periods of political tension, with each side accusing the other of orchestrating the violence.

A long-running political conflict in Thailand pits a middle class and royalist elite based in Bangkok against rural and working-class voters, many of whom are part of the Red Shirt movement loyal to exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

In May 2014, the military ousted the civilian government of Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin’s sister, after months of demonstrations and political unrest.

Recent tensions stemmed from statements by the military junta that it may not hold elections until 2017 and that it would push for a constitution that will enable emergency rule for any elected government.

Another source of recent tension, according to the Associated Press, is the annual military promotion list, with the junta's top two leaders — Prime Minister Prayuth and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit — widely believed to be supporting different candidates.


Meanwhile, the bodies of four members of a Malaysian family who died in the bombing arrived in their home state of Penang on Wednesday.

Seven family members had taken the train to Bangkok for a holiday while the young adult son was on leave from school in Taiwan.

A fifth member was also killed in the blast, but authorities were still conducting postmortem on her remains, relatives said.

Neoh Hock Guan, 55, a cake seller in the city of Butterworth, survived the bombing but lost his wife, sister-in-law, son, son-in-law and four-year-old granddaughter.

"I was lighting up the prayer stick for prayers with my family members. Suddenly there was a huge explosion and I was thrown away,” he told reporters in Butterworth.

“Upon getting back on my feet, I looked for my family and saw my daughter was safe but my son-in-law and my son were dead. Then I saw my wife lying in a pool of blood and fighting for her life. I was totally at a loss. All I could do at that time was cry for help."


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.