Bangkok bomb: Police release sketch of suspect that killed 20
Published 19/08/2015 | 10:37
Police in Thailand are offering a reward for information on suspects being hunted over the explosion that killed 20 people at a Bangkok shrine.
A million baht (€25,500) is being offered for word on the bomber or bombers suspected of planting the bomb that went off at a shrine on Monday evening, killing 20 people and wounding nearly 130 others, police spokesman Lieutenant General Prawut Thavornsiri said.
A series of photos of one suspect have been released to the public showing a man in a yellow T-shirt and carrying a backpack.
Police say he was not acting alone.
They have also released a detailed sketch of the suspected Bangkok bomber seen on security footage leaving a backpack at a shrine moments before a bomb detonated, killing 20 people and wounding scores more.
The unidentified man, who has a light complexion, some stubble, black hair and glasses, "might be foreign or Thai", according to national police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri.
Thailand's national police chief said earlier that the bombing was carried out by "a network", as investigators focused on the man seen in a grainy security video leaving a backpack behind 20 minutes before the explosion.
Police chief Somyot Poompanmoung made the comment as he headed into a meeting of national police commanders, saying he was carrying orders from the prime minister who was "worried about the security of people and tourists in Thailand".
Two days after the attack, the Erawan Shrine reopened to the public but little is known about who was behind the blast or the motive. No one has claimed responsibility for the Monday evening explosion at the open-air Hindu shrine, located at one of the capital's busiest intersections.
But authorities said they were certain that the man seen in the video was responsible.
"He didn't do it alone, for sure. It's a network," said Mr Somyot.
Police have released still photos of the man, with and without the backpack, and a video posted separately on Thai media appeared to show the same man sitting on a bench at the shrine, taking off the backpack and leaving it behind as he walked away.
The attack has raised concerns about safety in a city that draws millions of tourists and had never experienced an attack of this magnitude.
Prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha called the bombing "the worst incident that has ever happened in Thailand" and vowed to track down those responsible.
The Erawan Shrine is a revered spot among Thais and tourists that transcends religion. It is dedicated to the Hindu god Brahma, but is extremely popular among Thailand's Buddhists as well as Chinese tourists.
Although Thailand is predominantly Buddhist, Hinduism has an influence on its religious practices and language. The shrine's location adds to its popularity, offering an open-air place for prayer amid the capital's gleaming shopping malls and five-star hotels.
Police said later that they had called two or three people for questioning as they search for the main suspect.
Lt Gen Prawut said an arrest warrant for the unidentified suspect would be issued soon, adding: "Hopefully he is still in Thailand."
He said others wanted for questioning are also seen in the security footage from the shrine.
Mr Somyot said anybody in the security footage around the time of the blast would be considered a suspect.
He added that there must be some Thai nationals involved, and officers are not certain that the man in the video is a foreigner and he could have been in disguise.
Prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha appealed to the main suspect to surrender, claiming "he might get killed to stop him from talking".
Mr Prayuth told reporters: "If the person wants to be safe, he should turn himself in. Officials will find a legal way to provide him with safety. It's better than living in hiding. It would make his life miserable."
He added: "I want to tell those close to the suspect to tell him to come to police, whether you are in the same network or not, because he might be in danger."