'Over 10 people involved' in Thai shrine bombing
THE Thai authorities said yesterday the deadly Bangkok shrine bombing on Monday was likely not the work of international terrorist organisations, but appealed for Interpol help in tracking down a young "foreign" man suspected of planting the device.
After days of confusion, national police chief Somyot Poompanmoung yesterday gave the most detailed profile of the assailants, saying there were more than 10 people involved and that they had carefully planned the attack, Agence France-Presse reported.
"This blast was carried out by teams... there was a survey team, a protection team, material providing team and exit team," General Somyot told reporters.
When asked about the origin of the suspected bomber, whose movements were captured on a security camera at the Erawan shrine, he said: "The criminal could be someone from inside the country but was disguised to make himself appear (like) a foreigner."
But police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri used a Thai phrase often used to refer to Muslims from South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East to describe the suspect.
The spokesman also said the man had been overheard speaking a foreign language, which was not English.
Government spokesman Winthai Suvaree said intelligence sharing with other countries has led to the conclusion that the incident is unlikely to be linked to international terrorism.
The apparent elimination of foreign involvement will feed speculation that either Muslim separatists in southern Thailand, or domestic political activists trying to topple the military-led government, were involved, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, two men identified as suspects in the bomb attack said they were tour guides after turning themselves in to the police, BBC reported yesterday.
The police are now questioning the pair, who were seen in red and white T-shirts and rising from a bench at the shrine in camera footage shortly before the main suspect, in yellow, sat down and left behind his backpack, according to the BBC.
Earlier, Mr Prawut said the pair may have been deliberately shielding the main suspect from passers-by.
The blast, which killed at least 20 people, came as Thailand's parliament is due to vote on a draft constitution next month.
Critics say the draft is undemocratic and intended to help the army secure power and curb the influence of elected politicians.