One CCTV sus­pect freed over Bangkok bomb, says spokesman

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE -

Thai po­lice on Thurs­day said they had ques­tioned and freed one man who handed him­self in af­ter be­ing seen on CCTV at the Bangkok shrine mo­ments be­fore a deadly bomb blast, but the prime sus­pect re­mains at large.

A Thai man wanted for ques­tion­ing af­ter he was seen on se­cu­rity cam­era footage “met po­lice and was re­leased,” na­tional po­lice spokesman Prawut Tha­vorn­siri told re­porters, adding a sec­ond man from main­land China in the same shot had al­ready left the coun­try — but nei­ther were “likely in­volved.”

The main sus­pect, be­lieved to be a for­eigner in a yel­low shirt seen de­posit­ing a back­pack at the scene was still at large, he added.

Also, Thai author­i­ties said Thurs­day in­ter­na­tional terror groups were likely not be­hind a deadly Bangkok shrine bomb­ing, but ap­pealed for In­ter­pol help in track­ing down a young “for­eign” man sus­pected of plant­ing the de­vice.

Po­lice also said that the at­tack on a Hindu shrine in a bustling tourist hub of the cap­i­tal was care­fully planned by a net­work of more than 10 peo­ple.

Mon­day’s blast killed 20 peo- ple, mostly Asian visi­tors, leav­ing res­i­dents and even the mil­i­tary junta leader fear­ing more at­tacks, while send­ing shock­waves though the na­tion’s vi­tal tourism sec­tor.

The ap­par­ent de­lib­er­ate tar­get­ing of tourists and the scale of the ex­plo­sion had never been seen in the Thai cap­i­tal and, with no- one claim­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity, ex­perts were per­plexed over who to blame.

Thai­land’s na­tional po­lice chief, Somyot Poom­pan­moung, on Thurs­day gave the most de­tailed pro­file of the mys­te­ri­ous as­sailants, say­ing there were more than 10 in­volved and that they had care­fully planned it.

“This blast was car­ried out by teams ... there was a sur­vey team, a pro­tec­tion team, ma­te­rial pro­vid­ing team and exit team,” Somyot told re­porters.

But af­ter days of con­fus­ing and some­times con­tra­dic­tory in­for­ma­tion from Thai author­i­ties over their in­ves­ti­ga­tion, they also said they did not be­lieve global ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions were in­volved.

“Se­cu­rity agen­cies have col­lab­o­rated with in­tel­li­gence agen­cies from al­lied coun­tries, and have come to the same pre­lim­i­nary con­clu­sion that the in­ci­dent is un­likely to be linked to in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism,” junta spokesman Colonel Winthai Su­va­ree said in a tele­vised up­date.

Winthai also said: “Chi­nese peo­ple were not the di­rect tar­get.”

This ap­peared to be aimed at coun­ter­ing ac­cu­sa­tions run by some sec­tions of the Thai media that mil­i­tants rep­re­sent­ing the eth­nic Chi­nese Uighur mi­nor­ity had car­ried out the at­tack.

Con­fu­sion, Fears

Adding to the sense of in­se­cu­rity, Prime Min­is­ter Prayuth ChanOcha said he would not at­tend a me­mo­rial ser­vice for the vic­tims at the shrine on Fri­day be­cause of grow­ing fears for his life.

“I will not go there on the ad­vice of my se­cu­rity. I am not afraid of dy­ing but I am afraid oth­ers may die with me as my risk is in­creas­ing day by day,” he said at an of­fi­cial func­tion in Bangkok.

Prayuth is a for­mer army chief who has ruled the coun­try as the head of a mil­i­tary junta since over­throw­ing the demo­crat­i­cally elected gov­ern­ment of Yingluck Shi­nawa­tra in May last year.

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