BANGKOK: Thailand said Thursday it would seek Interpol help in hunting a foreign man believed to have carried out a devastating Bangkok shrine bombing, with police unsure if he had fled the country.
An arrest warrant was issued for the unnamed bespectacled suspect, who was filmed on security footage placing a backpack at the shrine before Monday’s blast that tore through the popular tourist site.
The attack on the Erawan shrine killed 20 people, mostly Asian visitors, leaving residents of the Thai capital fearful of another attack and hammering the nation’s vital tourism sector. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the bombing, which has no precedent in Bangkok.
Police have said the foreigner and potentially at least two other men were part of a network, but have so far revealed few other strong leads and authorities moved Thursday for outside assistance.
“We will seek help from Interpol today (Thursday),” Major General Apichart Suriboonya, the head of Thailand’s Interpol unit, told AFP. “We have to use them if any country has information on the suspect they can send it to us.”
A so-called Interpol ‘Blue Notice’ asks its global membership to collect additional information on a suspect.
Police released a sketch of him on Wednesday showing him in glasses and with dark hair, describing him as tall and with fair skin but with generally ambiguous features that made it hard to determine his ethnicity.
But police said Thursday they were unsure of his whereabouts.
“We are doing our best,” police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri told AFP. “We have received a lot of information from the public since releasing of the sketch we are investigating those leads.”
But when asked if the prime suspect was still in the kingdom, Prawut said: “I don’t know”.
The arrest warrant, issued by a Bangkok court on Wednesday, accused the unnamed foreigner “of premeditated murder, attempted murder and bomb-making”.
Police have said they are looking for two other men also seen on security footage at the Erawan shrine before the blast who may have been his accomplices.
The men one in a red shirt, the other in white can be seen standing in front of the chief suspect as he calmly places the backpack under a bench inside the shrine gates.
The security footage shows them standing in front of the primary suspect, who is wearing a bright yellow T-shirt and glasses, as he leaves the bag.
Prawut on Wednesday gave a more detailed profile of the suspected ethnicity of the alleged bomber, using the Thai phrase “khaek khao” a word used to describe light-skinned Muslims from South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.
Those comments came during a night patrol of Soi Cowboy one of Bangkok’s most famous red-light districts which is packed with foreigners which was designed to reassure visitors.