Thai woman sought for bomb attacks after materials seized from her flat
Authorities are hunting for a Thai woman after materials believed to be used for bomb-making were seized from her room at an apartment in Min Buri district, Bangkok Post said.
She was believed to know the perpetrators thought to be behind the Erawan shrine and Sathon pier bombings, according to police sources. The group was thought to be planning more attacks.
The woman is identified as “Misaloh”, and she rented room No.9106 at Maimuna Garden Home, an apartment in Bangkok’s Min Buri district.
“We found fertiliser bags, watches, radio controls — parts to make bombs and electric charges,” national police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri told AFP Monday.
Prawut said police are seeking to issue three or four more arrest warrants but declined to give more details.
He did not say when the raid on the Min Buri apartments took place.
Media accompanied police during a search of multiple flats in Minburi Sunday but no items were shown to the press or announcement made of any evidence discovery.
The area is near to where an unidentified foreign man was arrested Saturday, allegedly in possession of bomb-making paraphernalia including detonators and ball-bearings as well as dozens of fake passports.
“We believe that the suspect was involved with the bombing” at the Erawan shrine, national police spokesman Thavornsiri said on a live televised broadcast Saturday evening.
He added that the foreign man was also involved in a blast the day after that bombing near a popular tourist pier, which sent people scurrying but caused no injuries.
The suspect, now in military custody, has been charged with the “illegal possession of bomb-making materials” and was found with multiple passports, Prawut said in the broadcast.
Photographs of a lightly bearded man sitting with his hands behind his back, Turkish passports wrapped in rubber bands and the photo passport page of a 28-year-old Turkish national named Adem Karadag were also shown on screen.
Police did not specify the suspect’s nationality or name.
But Colonel Banphot Phunphien, spokesman of Thailand’s Internal Security Operations Command, said the man was a “Turkish national” adding that authorities were working to “verify his nationality” with the Turkish embassy.
For days, Thai police have been searching for a believed network behind the attacks, focusing on a prime suspect, described as a foreign man, who was captured on security footage wearing a yellow T-shirt and leaving a bag at the shrine moments before the blast. But authorities have not yet said whether they believe the suspect now detained is the same as the man seen in this video footage.
In earlier comments on Thai broadcaster Channel 3, Prawut said the “clothes and bomb-making materials” found in the accused’s room were linked to both recent blasts.
“The ball bearing is the same size” as those found at the two bombing sites, he added.
Police chief Somyot Poompanmoung told reporters the suspect was motivated by a “personal feud” and that international terrorism was “unlikely”.
Police believe the suspect was part of a crime group who helped illegal migrants obtain counterfeit documents — and that the bomb attack on the shrine was retaliation for a recent crackdown by Thai authorities.
The blast that hit the Erawan shrine in a busy Bangkok shopping district on August 17 was Thailand’s worst single mass-casualty attack, killing 20 people.
The attack on the Hindu shrine has raised anxieties in the vibrant city and dealt a fresh blow to the kingdom’s reputation as a welcoming and safe travel destination. The majority of those killed were ethnic Chinese worshippers from across Asia, who flocked 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.