The hunt for those behind the Bangkok shrine blast narrowed on Monday (Aug 31) as police revealed they have two new suspects after more bomb-making paraphernalia was found in a suburban apartment. The bomb that hit the Erawan shrine on Aug 17 was Thailand’s worst single mass-casualty attack, killing 20 and wounding hundreds, the majority of them ethnic Chinese tourists from across Asia.
Channel News Asia (h/t CB Japan) Suspicion has alternated between Thailand’s bitter political rivals, organized criminal gangs, extremist militants, rebels in the kingdom’s strife-torn south and sympathizers of Muslim refugees from China’s Uighur minority, a minority that has been behind virtually all the terrorist attacks against the Chinese people in the last several years.
In July, Thailand deported 109 Uighurs to China, enraging supporters of the Muslim minority which is under tight scrutiny by the Chinese government. Turkish protesters stormed the Thai consulate in Istanbul and forced it to close.
Police are now seeking a Thai woman and an unidentified man after bomb-making materials were discovered over the weekend in an apartment in the suburb of Minburi. Investigators believe it was used as a hideout by the network that carried out the attack.
In a televised broadcast Prawut displayed a photograph of the wanted Thai woman, taken from an official identity card, showing her wearing a black hijab (below). He named her as 26-year-old Wanna Suansan – also known by the Muslim name Misaloh – the first time a suspect in the bombing probe has been identified.
“We found fertiliser bags, watches, radio controls – parts to make bombs and electric charges,” said national police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri. “We are confident they are the same group.”
Police had detained an unidentified foreign man (below) on Saturday morning at another flat nearby, where detonators, industrial pipes and ball bearings were found. Dozens of fake Turkish passports were also found in his flat, police added.
Authorities have been at pains to play down any suggestion the attack was launched by international Islamic terrorists or targeted Chinese visitors, in a nation where tourism represents nearly 10 per cent of the economy.
Analysts have speculated the blast, which has not been claimed by any group, more likely, could have been motivated by revenge over Thailand’s recent deportation of the ethnic Uighurs to China.