On August 17th, a backpack bomb went off at the Erawan Shrine, a Hindu shrine and popular tourist attraction in Bangkok. The blast killed 20 people, and no one has claimed responsibility. Another bomb, near the Sathon pier, exploded the following day and has been linked to this attack.
Investigation of the incidents exposed gaps in Thai security: the CCTV cameras along the getaway route, and inside a hospital where the suspect may have changed clothes, were nonfunctional, or recorded blurry pictures which left the police guessing. According to Police Chief Somyot Poompanmoung, the police force lacks sophisticated equipment needed to clear up the blurry pictures.
On August 29th, police arrested a man believed to be involved in the bombing. The man, described as a 28 year old “foreigner,” was arrested in an apartment building in Nong Chok, a suburb of Bangkok. Police found large amounts of explosive supplies, such as urea fertilizer, TNT, C4, sodium carbonate, large plastic and steel containers, a fuse line, flashlights, screwdrivers, and tape, as well as several fake passports in the suspect’s rented rooms. A second suspect was arrested on September 1st, near the Cambodian border, closely resembling a man in yellow captured on CCTV leaving a bag at the blast site. This suspect is confirmed as “directly involved with the bomb material,” as his fingerprints were found on evidence collected from the first suspect’s raided apartments. The Thai police have issued eight arrest warrants concerning the blast.
Police have insisted that the bombing was not an act of international terrorism, and is instead being considered an act of “personal revenge for [the suspect’s] comrades.”
Concerns for the Thai economy are emerging following the bombing – 10% of Thailand’s GDP comes from tourism. Additionally, the attacks could affect consumer sentiment, worsening confidence and spending.
Sources and Further Reading
- Phone data leads to bomb arrest – Bangkok Post
- Thai police arrest foreign man over Bangkok bombing – Reuters
- Bangkok Bombing: Broken cameras, lack of “CSI” equipment stall probe – NBC News
- Bangkok bomb: Police charge man “linked to Erawan blast” – BBC News
- Mystery man in Bangkok bomb probe “never said a word” – Reuters
- Bangkok bombing exposed frailty of Thai economy – CNBC
- Bangkok blast: Police match fingerprint to bomb suspect – BBC News