20 Aug 2015

Bangkok bomber an 'unnamed foreigner'

9:32 am on 20 August 2015

The bomber responsible for the attack that killed 20 people at Bangkok's Erawan shrine is a foreigner who is part of a 'network', say Thai police

This image released by the Royal Thai Police shows the photofit of a man suspected to be the Bangkok bomber.

This image released by the Royal Thai Police shows the photofit of a man suspected to be the Bangkok bomber. Photo: AFP / Royal Thai Police

Police have released a sketch of the main suspect, a man in a yellow T-shirt who was filmed by security cameras leaving a backpack at the shrine.

Police later said two other people seen on CCTV were being treated as suspects.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has described the incident as the worst-ever attack on Thailand.

The Hindu shrine, popular with tourists and Buddhists, reopened on Wednesday.

Police chief Somyot Poompanmoung told the Associated Press news agency that the shrine attack was the work of more than one person.

"He didn't do it alone for sure," he said, referring to the main suspect. "It's a network," he added, without giving further information. But he said he was certain that Thai citizens were involved in the bombing.

Flowers are laid at the entrance to the reopened Erawan Shrine in Bangkok.

Flowers are laid at the entrance to the reopened Erawan Shrine in Bangkok. Photo: AFP

Although the main suspect in the footage has not been identified, an arrest warrant for him has been issued by Bangkok's Southern Criminal Court. It accuses an "unnamed foreigner" of conspiracy to commit "premeditated murder" and weapons offences.

Police spokesman Prawut Thawornsiri said in a TV interview that the man could be of "mixed origin".

A reward of one million baht ($NZ42,000) has been offered for information leading to his arrest.

A woman prays at the reopened Erawan Shrine in Bangkok.

Photo: AFP

Mr Prawut also said that two other men seen in the grainy CCTV footage were being sought. "The person in red and the person in white are also suspects," he said.

The prime minister urged the main suspect to surrender to the police because he might otherwise "get killed to stop him from talking".

Mr Prayuth told reporters the man must have been hired to plant the bomb.

Monks make offerings at the re-opened Erawan Shrine on 19 August 2015.

Monks make offerings at the reopened Erawan Shrine on 19 August 2015. Photo: AFP

The shrine reopened at about 08:00 local time, with a handful of people arriving to place flowers or light incense in front of the slightly damaged statue of the Hindu god Brahma.

A BBC reporter at the scene said there appeared to be low security in place, with the public free to walk in unchecked.

Most of the victims of Monday's attack were Thai, but nationals from China, Hong Kong, the UK, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore were among the foreigners killed.

No-one has yet said they carried out the attack.

Thai soldiers inspect the scene after a bomb exploded outside a religious shrine in central Bangkok late on August 17, 2015

Soldiers at the scene after a bomb exploded outside a religious shrine in central Bangkok. Photo: AFP

In a separate attack on Tuesday, an explosive device was thrown at a pier in Bangkok. No-one was hurt, but the authorities have not ruled out a link between the incidents.

Maj Gen Weerachoon Sukhontapatipak, a spokesman in the military government, earlier told the BBC that the authorities were "quite close" to identifying the suspect caught on CCTV at the shrine.

The man is seen carefully removing his backpack inside the shrine - at the spot the bomb went off - then getting up without it and immediately leaving.

Gen Sukhontapatipak said no motive was being ruled out and the character of the bombing was "quite different" from previous attacks by Islamist separatists in southern Thailand.

Speaking in a television address on Tuesday evening, Mr Prayuth said the attack showed that Thailand "still has a person or a group of people with hostility to the nation operating actively".

"They may be doing it for a political motive or to undermine the economy or tourism or for other reasons," he said, according to the Bangkok Post.

He also warned against speculation on possible perpetrators, saying it could cause panic or mislead the investigation.

Flowers are laid at the entrance to the reopened Erawan Shrine in Bangkok.

Flowers are laid at the entrance to the reopened Erawan Shrine in Bangkok. Photo: AFP

- BBC

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