17 September 2019
A police officer stands in front of the Erawan shrine, the site of the deadly blast, in central Bangkok on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters
A police officer stands in front of the Erawan shrine, the site of the deadly blast, in central Bangkok on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters

Thai authorities seek suspect seen in CCTV footage at blast site

Thai authorities are looking for a suspect seen on closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage near the famous Erawan shrine where a bomb blast killed 22 people, including nine foreigners from several Asian countries.

The government believes Monday night’s attack, during rush hour in Bangkok’s bustling commercial hub, was aimed at destroying the economy. No one has claimed responsibility.

National police chief Somyot Pumpanmuang said the suspect was wearing a yellow shirt and could be Thai or a foreigner, Reuters reported.

“That man was carrying a backpack and walked past the scene at the time of the incident,” Somyot told a news conference. “But we need to look at the before and after CCTV footage to see if there is a link.”

Police earlier said they had not ruled out any group, including elements opposed to the military government, for the bombing.

However, officials said the attack did not match the tactics of Muslim insurgents in the south.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha also referred to the man as a suspect without giving details. He said there were “still anti-government groups out there”, although he did not elaborate.

Police were deployed to the blood-splattered site on Tuesday, some wearing white gloves and carrying plastic bags, searching for clues to an attack that could dent tourism and investor confidence.

Police said the death toll was 22, with 123 people wounded. They said the blast was caused by a pipe bomb.

“Police are not ruling out anything including [Thai] politics and the conflict of ethnic Uighurs who, before this, Thailand sent back to China,” Somyot said.

Thailand forcibly returned 109 Uighurs to China last month.

The Erawan shrine, on a busy corner near top hotels, shopping centers, offices and a hospital, is a major attraction, especially for visitors from East Asia, including China. Many Thais also worship there.

Four Chinese, including two people from Hong Kong, were among the dead, China’s official Xinhua news agency said.

Two Malaysians, a Singaporean, an Indonesian and a Filipino were also killed, officials said. Scores of people were wounded, including many from China and Taiwan.

Thailand has been riven for a decade by a sometimes violent struggle for power between political factions in Bangkok.

Occasional small blasts have been blamed on one side or the other. Two pipe bombs exploded outside a shopping mall in the same area in February, but caused little damage.

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