Monday 26 September 2016

Bangkok bomb: Police release sketch of suspect that killed 20

Published 19/08/2015 | 10:37

This image released by the Royal Thai Police shows a detailed sketch of the main suspect in a bombing that killed 20 people at the Erawan shrine in downtown Bangkok, on Monday(Royal Thai Police via AP)
This image released by the Royal Thai Police shows a detailed sketch of the main suspect in a bombing that killed 20 people at the Erawan shrine in downtown Bangkok, on Monday(Royal Thai Police via AP)
This image released by the Royal Thai Police shows a detailed sketch of the main suspect in a bombing that killed 20 people at the Erawan shrine in downtown Bangkok, on Monday(Royal Thai Police via AP)

Police in Thailand are offering a reward for information on suspects being hunted over the explosion that killed 20 people at a Bangkok shrine.

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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.

A man wearing a yellow T-shirt is seen near the Erawan Shrine before the explosion in Bangkok (Royal Thai Police via AP)
A man wearing a yellow T-shirt is seen near the Erawan Shrine before the explosion in Bangkok (Royal Thai Police via AP)
Police investigators work at the Erawan Shrine the morning after the explosion in central Bangkok (AP)
Police, soldiers and other officials at the Erawan Shrine the day after an explosion in Bangkok (AP)

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.

The body of a victim covered with a sheet is seen as security forces and emergency workers gather at the scene of the blast in central Bangkok August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Chaiwat SubprasomTEMPLATE OUT
The body of a victim covered with a sheet is seen as security forces and emergency workers gather at the scene of the blast in central Bangkok August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Chaiwat SubprasomTEMPLATE OUT
Security forces and emergency workers gather at the Erawan shrine, the site of a blast in central Bangkok August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom
Medical workers rush the victim of a blast at the Erawan shrine to a nearby hospital in central Bangkok August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Kerek Wongsa
This image taken from security footage provided by Thai PBS shows the moment of an explosion in central Bangkok, Thailand, on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. (Thai PBS via AP)
Experts investigate the remains of destroyed motorcycles at the Erawan shrine, the site of the blast in central Bangkok August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Kerek Wongsa
Experts investigate the remains of destroyed motorcycles at the Erawan shrine, the site of the blast in central Bangkok August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Kerek Wongsa
Rescue workers carry the body of a victim from the Erawan shrine, the site of a deadly blast in central Bangkok August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Kerek WongsaTEMPLATE OUT
Security forces are seen guarding a skywalk near the site of a blast in central Bangkok, Thailand, August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom
A security personnel patrols a skywalk near the site of a blast in central Bangkok, Thailand, August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom
Experts prepare to enter the scene and investigate around the Erawan shrine, the site of a deadly blast in central Bangkok August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Blood and personal belongings of victims are seen as experts investigate at the Erawan shrine, the site of a deadly blast in central Bangkok August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
The body of a victim is carried away from the Erawan shrine, the site of a deadly blast in central Bangkok August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Experts investigate at the Erawan shrine, the site of a deadly blast in central Bangkok August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Bodies of victims are covered with white sheet among wreckages of motorcycles and other debris as security forces and emergency workers gather at the scene of the blast in central Bangkok August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Experts work at the site of the blast in central Bangkok August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Security forces and emergency workers gather around a victim at the scene of the blast in central Bangkok August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Experts investigate at the site of a blast in central Bangkok August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

"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."

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