Shrine blast: 3 women detained in Bangkok; 3 others arrested in Malaysia
Six Bangkok blast suspects — four women and two men — have been detained or arrested in separate police operations in Thailand and Malaysia during this weekend.
A combined Thai force Sunday searched a female-only apartment complex in Bangkok’s Din Daeng area and detained three women for questioning, Nation reported.
The operation was part of an investigation into the suspect behind the Sathorn pier bomb. The suspect, who wore a blue shirt, was caught on CCTV carrying a bag and leaving it on Taksin Bridge before kicking it into a canal on August 17. It exploded the following afternoon without causing any casualties.
In Sunday’s joint operation, luggage and a computer were seized and fingerprints and DNA evidence collected to check for links to the Erawan Shrine and Sathorn bombings.
An informed source said that two female students rented the room before the mother of one of the students arranged for a middle-aged woman to stay with them two months ago.
The source said that a police probe found that three men, who were believed to have fled the country, had left items at the apartment.
An initial search of the apartment did not uncover any bomb components or substances used in bombs, the source added.
Sriwara said the search stemmed from information that an individual involved in the bombings had left personal items at the apartment a few days ago.
The authorities wanted to get details on that individual and possibly come up with a sketch of the person after speaking with the three women, he said.
“We cannot confirm if the person that left the items was among those wanted in this case. We can just say it wasn’t Wanna Suansan,” he said, in reference to the Thai woman wanted in connection with the case.
Another informed source said that initial inquiries found that the mother’s friend who resided at the apartment might be linked to the man in a blue shirt who carried the Sathorn Pier bomb. It is thought she may have arranged a taxi to get him to the pier.
She is also believed to be the person who collected personal items of another suspect in the case at an apartment located between Soi On Nut 44 and 46 police searched on Saturday night.
Malaysia arrested three suspects in connection with Erawan blast the investigation, Reuters said quoting police chief Khalid Abu Bakar Monday.
Two Malaysians and a Pakistani national were arrested and were assisting with the investigation, Khalid told reporters.
“We believe the suspects can help in the investigation… our arrest was made to assist the Thai police in the Thai bombing investigation,” he said. “Malaysian and Thai police are working closely in cooperation.”
Khalid said the Pakistani suspect is male while one of the local suspects is female. He said there were no plans to move the suspects to Thailand yet.
Khalid said Malaysian police were unsure if the main suspect was in Malaysia. The Thai investigation unearthed a lead earlier this month that suspected bomber may have crossed Thailand’s southern border into Malaysia.
According to an AFP report, the police investigation into the shrine blast increasingly points towards a game-changing attack on Chinese tourists by Uighur militants or sympathisers, analysts say — but Thailand and Beijing are loath to admit it.
Nearly a month after the August 17 attack, Thailand has two foreigners in custody and a dozen arrest warrants issued, and insists the network responsible for the explosion is in their cross hairs.
But investigators have yet to provide a compelling motive for the carnage in Bangkok’s commercial heart, which left 20 people dead — the majority ethnic Chinese tourists.
The leading theory they have offered is that the bomb was an act of revenge by criminals striking back at a police crackdown on a people-smuggling network.
That take has been shredded by analysts and the Thai public, unconvinced a criminal gang holds the means or motivation to carry out such a brutal act.
In recent days, links with militants from the Chinese Uighur minority — or ethnic Turkic supporters — seem to have firmed up with the passports, ethnicities and travel plans of key suspects all appearing to point in that direction.
If the police investigation is on track, “there is definitely a Uighur or radical Turkish national connection,” Zachary Abuza, an expert on Southeast Asian militant groups, said.
Yet Thai police are bending over backwards not to use the words “Uighur” or “terrorism” largely, analysts say, for fear of putting off tourists or angering China — one of the junta’s few international friends.
That determination reached near comical proportions Saturday when a warrant for a key suspect named as Abudusataer Abudureheman, or “Ishan”, was issued.
Police said he was a Chinese national of Uighur ethnicity who left the country before the attack, only to rescind the word “Uighur” hours later and call on the press to drop the term entirely.