Date
22 January 2017
Police inspect the aftermath of the Erawan shrine explosion. Thai police say the attackers targeted Chinese tourists. Photo: metro.uk.co
Police inspect the aftermath of the Erawan shrine explosion. Thai police say the attackers targeted Chinese tourists. Photo: metro.uk.co

Bangkok shrine bombers targeted Chinese tourists

Last year’s deadly bomb attack in Bangkok originally targeted a pier packed with Chinese tourists and the suspects had enough material to make 10 equally powerful explosive devices.

Reuters is reporting that Thai police are standing by their theory that the perpetrators of the Aug. 17 Erawan shrine explosion which killed 20 people were hitting back against a crackdown on human traffickers.

Another device, which was left at a crowded pier on Bangkok’s Chao Phraya river but failed to explode, might have inflicted much greater casualties, said a leading security analyst.

But the revelations by bomb squad chief Kamthorn Auicharoen Friday bolstered evidence that the attackers were trying to kill Chinese, the report said. 

Many analysts, diplomats and Thai officials said the attack was likely in retaliation for Thailand’s deportation to China of more than 100 Uyghur Muslims in July.

Yusufu Mieraili and Adem Karadag, the two suspects arrested last year by Thai police, are Uyghur Muslims from China’s restive Xinjiang region.

Hundreds of people have died in recent years in unrest in Xinjiang, where most Uyghurs live, and in attacks elsewhere in China attributed to Uighurs.

Exiles and human rights groups say those Uyghurs engaging in violence are lashing out at oppressive government policies that restrict their culture and religion.

Beijing denies this and blames Islamist militants for the rise in violence.

The two suspects appeared in a Bangkok military court on Feb. 16 to hear the 10 charges against them, including murder and illegal possession of explosives. Both men say they are innocent.

A record 7.9 million Chinese visited Thailand in 2015, more than a quarter of the 28 million tourists that year.

Chinese foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said attacks against civilians around the world, including Chinese, are increasing.

“We believe Thai authorities can severely punish the murderers according to the law,” said Hua.

Thai police have uncovered evidence in the shrine bombing that points to a large and well-organised network, according to experts and documents reviewed by Reuters.

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