BANGKOK — More arrest warrants are being sought for Thai and foreign nationals suspected of involvement in the bombings in Bangkok that killed 20 people earlier this month as authorities speculate a suspect taken into custody Saturday might have been planning more attacks.
Two days after the arrest of a foreign man in Bangkok’s eastern suburbs led police to raid other residences where they reportedly found bomb-making materials, Thailand’s top police official today said the suspects are part of a network responsible for the 17 Aug. Erawan Shrine bombing and another explosion at a riverside waterway the next day.
“Right now, we are in the process of applying for arrest warrants for those who were involved in and gave assistance to the perpetrators behind the Ratchaprasong intersection and Sathorn Pier [attacks],” Police Gen. Somyot Pumpanmuang said. “There are both Thais and foreigners, but we cannot yet disclose the number. We are waiting for the court’s approval first.”
Somyot added that police have not arrested any new suspects since the foreign man, whose nationality and name have yet to be verified, was detained at an apartment in the capital’s Nong Chok district on Saturday. Police said they found a large amount of bomb-making devices and fake Turkish passports. The man is currently being detained at an army base for interrogation.
However both Somyot and police spokesman Lt. Gen. Prawuth Thawornsiri said the amount of materials and explosives found in the suspect’s apartment could have been used for possible future attacks.
“It’s possible,” Prawuth said yesterday.“There were around 10 detonators in his room.”
The break in the case came after investigators spent nearly a week searching through phone traffic data near the site of the attack and found “Turkish phone numbers” using international roaming services, according to an unidentified police source in a Bangkok Post report.
Prawuth said yesterday interrogation of the suspect has yielded useful information, although he has not confessed to being involved.
“As for the interrogation of this suspect, I cannot disclose the details yet, but I can assure you that it’s very useful for the case. I also cannot yet confirm the nationality of this suspect. After the military completed interrogation, they will send him to police for legal prosecution,” Somyot said.
In a special order issued by junta chairman and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha in April, soldiers are permitted to detain individuals and search properties without court warrants.
Twenty people were killed and more than 150 injured in the bomb that struck Erawan Shrine on 17 Aug. Another bomb exploded in the water next to Sathorn Pier on 18 Aug., though no one was injured by the blast.
Police have issued two arrest warrants for the bomb suspects so far, a yellow-shirted man seen in CCTV placing his backpack at Erawan Shrine minutes before the bomb went off, and a blue-shirted man seen in security camera kicking a bag into the canal next to Sathorn Pier.
Police had not previously issued arrest warrant for the foreign man who was detained on Saturday, but “he is definitely one of the team” behind the bombings, police spokesperson Prawuth Thawornsiri said yesterday.
Somyot also told reporters today, “Government and security force have expressed concern and are monitoring situation around the country closely, because the confiscated items were large amount of explosives could have been used in other incidents. However, the people can rest assured that security officers can maintain the situation.”
Meanwhile, a 3 million-baht bounty for suspects in the Erawan Shrine bombings set by the police force would be given to police investigators who tracked down and arrested the foreign man on Saturday.
Police have promised to pay the bounty to any member of the public who has information leading to arrest of the suspects behind the bombings.
“I will present it to the investigation team because they managed to arrest the suspect at the apartment,” said Police Gen. Somyot.