The bomb attack that killed 20 people at Bangkok’s Erawan shrine on Monday was carried out by a “network”, Thailand’s chief of police has said. However, they now believe he is foreign per the arrest warrant issued by Bangkok’s Southern Criminal Court.
The man could be of “mixed origin”, Prawut said in a televised interview.
Thai police have said two further men – also seen on CCTV footage around the shrine in the lead-up to the explosion – are suspected of involvement in the attack. Police released several photos of the man, with and without the backpack, as well as a detailed sketch, and asked the public to provide information about him. A 1 million baht (around $28,000) reward is being offered for information leading to the alleged bomber’s location.
In releasing the sketch, national police chief General Somyot Poompanmoung said the suspect is believed to be a member of a wider network, and not a lone wolf attacker. Prawut said the security video appears to show two possible accomplices standing in front of the man who are also considered suspects.
Bangkok’s last major bombing took place New Year’s Eve at the close of 2006, when three people were killed in a series of explosions. “From this incident, it is apparent that there are active individuals or groups that harbor the intention to damage Thailand, who may be pursuing political gain or other intentions by damaging the economy and tourism”, Prayut said.
A stream of worshipers and Buddhist monks arrived to pray at the Hindu religious site, which is popular with locals and Chinese tourists.
Some erroneously pointed to an Australian model living in Bangkok, who said it was “traumatic” to be mistaken for a suspect in the bombing.
The CCTV footage shows a young man in a yellow T-shirt and shorts on a bench and taking off a large, black backpack.
“Usually, this kind of bomb attack is not planned by only one person”.
Prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha appealed to the main suspect to surrender, claiming “he might get killed to stop him from talking”.
Officially, the authorities are keeping an open mind on the motive for the deadly attack and there has been no claim of responsibility.
Police had initially said a second explosion at a Bangkok pier on Tuesday that caused no injuries may also be linked, deepening fears for residents of their safety.
The Erawan Shrine is a revered spot among Thais and tourists that transcends religion.
Investigators believe he left a pipe bomb.
Thai authorities identified six victims as Thai and four Malaysians, along with four Chinese, two people from Hong Kong, one Indonesian and one Singaporean.
Security camera footage showed people on a walkway at the Sathorn pier being showered with water after the object fell into the Chao Phraya river.