Bangkok blast suspect caught on camera
THAI Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday that a suspect had been identified in the bombing of the packed Buddhist shrine in Bangkok's Ratchaprasong area, which killed at least 22 people.
The suspect is a young man in a bright yellow T-shirt and shorts, who appears in footage from a closed-circuit TV camera installed at the Erawan shrine, Reuters reported.
The man walks calmly into the tourist attraction with a backpack and sits down, the footage shows.
Moments later, he takes the backpack off and walks out, holding only a blue plastic bag and what appears to be a mobile phone.
The backpack is left by a fence as tourists mill around a statue of the Hindu god Brahma.
But according to national police spokesman Prawut Thavorn, the man put the backpack under a bench in the shrine, hurried out and left the scene on a motorcycle taxi, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Mr Thavorn said the blast occurred three minutes later, before 7pm local time.
Six Thais, five Chinese including two Hong Kongers, one Singaporean and four Malaysians were among the people killed, police said.
More than 120 others were injured.
General Prayut yesterday branded the bombing the "worst ever attack" on Thailand, AFP reported.
Analysts could only speculate on the possible culprits, as never before had Thailand been attacked in this way in the downtown area of its capital.
Groups opposed to recent governments formed by the military, including the current one led by Gen Prayut, have never conducted such attacks.
Gen Prayut has ruled Thailand since May last year, after toppling the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of self-exiled politician Thaksin Shinawatra, in a bloodless coup.
Bangkok has endured a decade of deadly power struggles between the middle class and elite, backed by the military, and the poor led by Thaksin.
Muslim separatists from Thailand's far south have also never been known to carry out substantial attacks in Bangkok.
The government said the bomb was aimed at tarnishing its reputation and damaging the country's tourist industry, which is a rare bright spot in an otherwise-gloomy economy.
Thailand's baht currency slumped to a more than six-year low yesterday and shares fell in Bangkok over concerns that the attack could damage the tourism sector.
Adding to the tensions, a man hurled an explosive device yesterday towards a crowd at a riverside pier in the heart of Bangkok, but failed to hurt anyone. He fled the scene.
Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister, K. Shanmugam, yesterday expressed in Parliament the country's deepest sympathies for Thailand, as well as those killed or injured.
Hong Kong yesterday warned its residents to "avoid all non-essential travel" to Bangkok following Monday's blast.