Published on 20 Aug 2015

Bangkok bomber ‘still in Thailand’

The Bangkok bomber has not left the country and remains at large in Thailand, according to a senior Thai military official. He told Channel 4 News that the police were confident that arrests would soon be made.

Major-General Werachon Sukondhapatipak, a spokesman for the army junta, said he had just been briefed by police investigating Monday’s attack, which killed at least 20 people and injured 120.

The general said CCTV footage from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport had been closely scrutinised.

“I was told by the police that the suspect still remains in Thailand,” he said. “That is the only information that I can release to you at the moment.”

Three days after the bombing at the Erawan shrine, General Werachon defended the scarcity of information emanating from the investigation.

“I was informed that we have more information than what we’ve released to the public.” He said this could not be released “because it would interfere [with] the work of the police.”

“The police assure us that they have something more than what we release to the public,” he said. “They are quite confident that very soon, they would be able to apprehend people.”

‘Fresh evidence’

Two suspects wearing red and white shirts, visible in CCTV footage from the shrine, where they had been standing close to the alleged bomber, have reportedly handed themselves in to police. It is understood that the one was a local tour guide and the other a Chinese tourist.

General Werachon said the police were working on what he called “fresh evidence,” which he declined to reveal, citing security reasons. He said that this new evidence, combined with forensic investigations into the explosives used and CCTV footage of the suspect, were all part of the police inquiry.

New still-grabs from CCTV pictures of the prime suspect were released today. They show the man in the yellow T-shirt arriving at the shrine by tuk-tuk taxi and then, after planting the alleged bomb, walking away from the scene before escaping by motorcycle taxi.

The driver of the tuk-tuk was reportedly being interviewed by police on Thursday evening. The motorcycle taxi driver, named as Kasem Pooksuwan, had earlier told police that the suspect had handed him a note, written in English, with the name of his destination — the nearby Lumpini Park.

Thai television’s Channel 3, which interviewed Mr Kasem by phone, said he his passenger had made a phone call in which he had spoken in a foreign language – but that it wasn’t English. This appears to be the strongest known indication that the suspected bomber was a foreigner.

An annotated map, released by police, appears to conclude that the man in the yellow T-shirt had continued by foot from Lumpini Park, down Silom Road. The road is adjacent to the Patpong night market, and the bars and clubs frequented by thousands of foreign tourists every evening.

The last reported sighting of him was close to this area.

Theories

With no group claiming responsibility for the attack, General Werachon said all theories as to the motivation of the bomber were being explored. He said this included the possibility that the attack may be linked to infighting between rival factions within the Thai military.

Earlier, the junta ruled out an international connection, suggesting foreign jihadist groups were not behind it. The prime minister also said it was unlikely that it was a revenge attack by members of China’s persecuted Uighur minority, 109 of whom were deported from Thailand last month.

“We are not putting to much weight on one particular motive,” General Werachon said. “We still cannot rule out any option.”

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