Thailand Makes First Arrest in Shrine Bombing

By Pimuk Rakkanam
2015.08.29
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150829-TH-bomb-620 Thai policemen escort a car - part of a convoy leaving a compound in the Bangkok area and transporting a suspect in the Aug. 17 bombing of the Erawan shrine, Aug. 29, 2015.
AFP

Updated at 1:08 p.m. ET on 2015-08-31

Thai police on Saturday arrested a “foreign man” in the deadly Aug. 17 bombing of a Hindu shrine in central Bangkok.

Security forces found bomb-making materials and blank passports in the apartment where the suspect was apprehended in Nongjok district, a suburb of Bangkok, officials said.

“Since this morning, the police and military have a joint search for suspects. We found a male suspect and held him for having bombs in his possession,” police spokesman Prawuth Thavornsiri said on national television.

The 28-year-old “foreign man” had “explosive devices and components such as detonators, arrays of ball bearings, and iron pipes, as well as a big number of passports of a country,” Prawuth added.

A passport seized from the suspect and bearing his photograph identified him as a Turkish national named Adem Karadag.  An image from the passport was shown on screen during the televised police statement.

But Prawuth said authorities had not yet confirmed the suspect’s nationality or identity.

"The passport you see is fake," the Associated Press quoted him as saying. "We don't know if he is Turkish or not."

‘Looks like’ prime suspect

The Aug. 17 bombing of the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok’s upscale Rajaprasong district killed 20 people and injured another 125. An explosion the following day at the Sathorn passenger pier in Bangkok harmed no one.

Police had earlier issued an arrest warrant for an unnamed “foreign man” and linked it to a forensic police sketch of an individual, who had been filmed by a security camera leaving a backpack at the shrine moments before the blast.

Police believe the suspect – who was being held at a military facility on charges of possessing illegal explosives – was involved in both attacks.

“We found a connection to both bombs, Rajaprasong and Sathorn,” Prawuth said, adding that the detained man “looks like” the prime suspect, according to Reuters.

Police released a photograph of the man, barefoot and with his hands apparently bound behind his back, in what appears to be a kitchen.

‘There are some more’

Police are hunting for other suspects, a security official told BenarNews, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The man “crossed the border from Cambodia via Sakaeo province. There are some more we are hunting for," he said.

To date, no one has claimed responsibility for the Bangkok bombing.

In a press conference earlier Saturday, Thai National Police Gen. Somyos Poompanmaung insisted that the attack on the Erawan shrine was “not an international terrorist act.”

The likely motive was "taking personal revenge for his comrades," he said, according to Reuters. He did not elaborate.

“We cannot give more information at this stage as the suspect is a foreigner, and more interrogation is needed," he said.

An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of the spokesman for national police.

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