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Wednesday, August 19

Bangkok bombing: "We have suspects. There are not many people." UPDATE 8:30am EDT

UPDATE 8:30am EDT
CNN: Thai police say suspect in Bangkok Erawan shrine bombing had accomplices

Police sketch of Bangkok bombing prime suspect; CCTV shows two possible accomplices

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Good point: “It was a statement aimed at the commercial interests, if they had really wanted to kill a lot of foreigners they would have hit the bar districts in Sukhumvit,” Mr Westall said.

This is the first time I've seen the middle photo
 from CCTV footage near Erawan Shrine bomb blast


It seems there is considerable CCTV video available of the suspect. A small portion of the footage is shown at YouTube (edited by BBC) and in a slighter longer version of the same footage at Reuters. The montage of still photos, above, from CCTV is from the AU (Australia) News site.  

The AU report accompanying the photos makes some statements I consider interesting. But first, from a Reuters report 8/19:
Police Major General Pornchai Suteerakune, commander of the Institute of Forensic Medicine, said the bodies of almost all the dead at the shrine were wounded by silver ball bearings that were packed into the bomb.
Now from the AU report's passages about the explosion near the Sathorn pier:
Lt. Gen. Prawut Thavornsiri said the pier blast was caused by a pipe bomb and could be related to the shrine attack.
Police said the bomb was thrown from the Taksin Bridge and fell into the River, where it exploded. Security video showed a sudden blast of water over a walkway at the pier as bystanders ran for safety.
Nobody was injured in the incident, despite reports that hundreds of small pellets were reportedly seen strewn in all directions from the explosion.
If those "pellets" are ball bearings, that would suggest the two bomb incidents were related, and that the second bomb had also been built to inflict maximum casualties if the thrown device had hit its mark.

To return to the AU report:

Bangkok bombing: Anti-government protesters blamed for deadly terror attack
3 HOURS AGO - AUGUST 19, 2015 4:02pm


THAI police say the bomber who is being hunted in the explosion that killed 20 people at the downtown Bangkok shrine did not act alone.
National chief of police Somyot Poompanmoung says “he didn’t do it alone for sure. It’s a network.”
[...]
Police said they had no doubt that the man seen in the video wearing a yellow shirt and carrying a large, dark-coloured backpack was responsible for the attack. But authorities gave no indication that they were aware of his whereabouts.
“The yellow shirt guy is not just the suspect. He is the bomber,” police spokesman Lt. Gen. Prawut Thavornsiri told The Associated Press.
The attack has been blamed on anti-government protesters.
As the death toll from Monday’s bombing climbed to 21, with more than 100 injured, authorities released CCTV footage of their prime suspect and laid the blame with supporters of the exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha described the bombing as the country’s worst attack ever.
“Today there is a suspect who appeared on CCTV but it’s not clear ... we are looking for this guy,” he said, adding he was believed to be from an “anti-government group based in Thailand’s northeast” — the heartland of the anti-coup Red Shirt movement.
[...]

In successive statements the nation’s defence minister and Prime Minister appeared to dismiss as suspects insurgents from the decades long civil war in the country’s south that has seen 6,500 people.
“It is much clearer who the bombers are, but I can’t reveal right now,” defence minister Prawit Wongsuwan said. “We have suspects. There are not many people.”
“There have been minor bombs or just noise, but this time they aim for innocent lives. They want to destroy our economy, our tourism.”
Since 2006 Bangkok has witnessed repeated rounds of deadly political violence, flanked by two coups. Until Monday though, foreigners had rarely been caught up in the bloodshed.
The most recent coup in 2014 toppled the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra after months of disruptive street protests.
Thailand is also fighting a decade-long insurgency in its southernmost Muslim-majority provinces that border Malaysia, which has seen more than 6400 people killed, mostly civilians.
The bomb was the third that has exploded in the city centre since the coup, but it was the first to take any lives.
   
[...]


The blasts have made the usually bustling city of Bangkok unnervingly quiet.
Tourist meccas like the Silom/Patpong area and the Nana bar strip were quiet at lunchtime yesterday. The city’s BTS Skytrain, usually jammed-packed with people from the early hours of the morning until well into the evening on a regular work day, was so empty that seats — an unheard of luxury — were commonly available.
The city’s sprawling shopping malls like Siam Paragon and Central World, which rises close to Racha intersection, the epicentre of the blast, were quiet. Tourists, indeed foreigners of any description in a city that is generally seething with expatriates, were as rare as hen’s teeth.
[...]

Jodie Kimpton, visiting Bangkok from Mt Evelyn in Victoria was at her father Ken Westall’s place on Monday night, only a few blocks from the blast staying in because of “some dodgy chicken.”


“It sounded like an explosion but the same thing happened the previous night and it was thunder,” she said.
Mr Westall, who with his daughter, was talking photos of the bomb scene late yesterday morning and was in little doubt who was to blame.
“It definitely part of the political tension, it’s tit for tat:, the military does one thing Thaksin does another. This is them showing the military what they can do,” he said, adding that 25 years of living in Bangkok helped his understanding of the situation.
“It was statement aimed at the commercial interests, if they had really wanted to kill a lot of foreigners they would have hit the bar districts in Sukhumvit,” Mr Westall said.
[...]
Long time observers tipped that as the junta moved to change Thailand's constitution to prevent Thaksin and his supporters regaining power via the ballot box, and as the trial against Yingluck proceeds later this year, Bangkok could see a repeat of Monday’s deadly events.
[Yingluck is Thaksin's sister; she was deposed as prime minister and minister of defense in 2014 and widely acknowledged to have been simply a mouthpiece for Thaksin after he was deposed.] 
[...]
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