The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

Thais detain bomb suspect


BANGKOK: Thai police last night detained a foreign man with a fake Turkish passport who they say is “likely involved” with a bomb attack in Bangkok last week.

Authoritie­s made the arrest after raiding an apartment in suburban Bangkok where they found bomb-making materials, the first possible breakthrou­gh in the deadly shrine bombing on August 17.

“He is most likely related to the bombing,” deputy police chief Chakthip Chaijinda said of the suspect.

“We found bomb materials in his apartment.”

The blast at the Erawan Shrine in one of Bangkok’s most upscale shopping districts left 20 people dead, including several foreigners, and more than 120 people injured.

Authoritie­s have called it the most deadly attack in Thailand’s modern history.

National police spokesman Prawut Thawornsir­i said authoritie­s had not yet determined the man’s nationalit­y, dismissing reports by local news organisati­ons that he is Turkish. Images of the passport were posted on social media.

“The passport you see is fake,” Mr Prawut said. “We don’t know if he is Turkish or not.”

However, a senior military officer later claimed the sus- pect was in fact a Turkish national who carried multiple passports.

“He carries many passports. It’s unusual how he carries so many passports,” Colonel Banphot Phunphien said.

Police had been searching for a prime suspect, described as a foreign man, who was videoed wearing a yellow T-shirt and leaving a bag at the shrine moments before the blast recorded by security cameras.

Mr Prawut said the “clothes and bomb-making materials” found in the detained man’s room were linked to the shrine attack as well as to a second blast last Tuesday near a popular tourist pier which caused no casualties.

“The ball bearing is the same size” as those found at the two blast sites, he said.

The attack on the Hindu shrine dealt a blow to the kingdom’s reputation as a welcoming and safe travel destinatio­n.

The majority of those killed were ethnic Chinese worshipper­s who flock to the shrine in the belief that prayers there bring good fortune.

Investigat­ors have said the attack was clearly aimed at damaging the tourism industry but insist that Chinese tourists – who visit Thailand in larger numbers than any other nationalit­y – were not singled out.

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