One CCTV suspect freed over Bangkok bomb, says spokesman
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.
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.