The main suspect who was arrested earlier this week in connection to the bomb explosion at Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine last month is believed to be an Uyghur from China’s western Xinjiang region, a senior Thai police officer said on Wednesday.
This is based on a passport found on the suspect, images of which have already been widely circulated online. Police General Chaktip Chaijinda stressed, however, that police have not yet authenticated the travel document, pointing out that identification linked to another foreign suspect arrested earlier in the investigation ended up being fake.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Monday that police caught the most recent suspect in Sa Kaeo province on the border of Cambodia.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Thai officials have said they believe the suspects in the bombing might be involved with ethnic Uyghurs attempting to flee China and reach Turkey, where members of the Muslim-Turkic group have tried to resettle. […]
China’s embassy in Bangkok issued a statement shortly after the bombing criticizing media for speculating that the blast might have been retaliation for Thailand’s decision to deport more than 100 Uyghurs back to China in July. The deportations were met with violent protests outside a Thai consulate in Turkey, while the Bangkok bomb itself was planted at a site known to be popular with visitors from China. Seven of the dead came from China. […]
Another senior Thai official, however, said the suspects might not necessarily have targeted the shrine to retaliate against the deportations. Police Lt. Gen. Prawut Thavornsiri told reporters Wednesday that the suspects might have been part of a people-smuggling gang who had lost business as a result of a recent crackdown on human trafficking in Thailand.
Police said that the suspect arrested near Cambodia was carrying a piece of paper with instructions for making explosives. His fingerprints also matched samples taken from apparent bomb-making materials found during a raid on a Bangkok apartment over the weekend.
Meanwhile, authorities involved in the investigation released the name of yet another suspect believed to be linked to the bombing. An arrest warrant has now been issued for Demrah Davutoglu, the husband of a 26-year-old Thai woman who was also named as a suspect in the case following the apartment raid, according to CNN. Arrest warrants have been issued for eight people, although only two suspects have been apprehended.
More than 20 people were killed when a bomb blast rocked a shrine located in the heart of the Thai capital on August 17. Five Chinese tourists were killed in the explosion, including a man from Shanghai.