Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Thai police on Thursday said a deadly bomb attack at a religious shrine in Bangkok was "unlikely" to be the work of international terrorists.
Right after the blast, media outlets cast suspicion on militants from China’s Uygur minority, a group that faces cultural and religious repression in its homeland.
Last month, Thailand forcibly repatriated more than 100 Uygur refugees to China, stirring speculation that Monday’s attack may have been an act of revenge.
Nevertheless, Thai authorities said that they would seek Interpol help to hunt the suspect believed to have carried out the devastating bombing at Bangkok’ Erawan shrine on Monday that left 22 people dead (including 13 foreigners) and wounded more than 100.
So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the unprecedented attack. However, police yesterday issued an identikit for the main suspect.
Two other men are sought in connection with the bombing. The two – 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. Thailand’s police chief said at least 10 people were suspected of involvement in the attack.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who described the bombing as the "worst ever attack" on Thailand, 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.
When asked if the prime suspect was still in the kingdom, Prayut said, “I don’t know”.
“Nothing is clear in this story,” a source in Bangkok said. “What is certain is that the people are dissatisfied with the military junta, even if the latter thinks the opposite."
Since the suspect wore a yellow shirt, some thought he might be connected to past bloody unrest between opposing factions, one sporting yellow shirts and the other red shirts
A woman disagrees. “The yellow shirts are not certainly behind the attack. They back the current government,” she explained. “Red shirts also do not favour this kind of action. Someone else must be behind it.”
"The bomb used in the attack was not made in Thailand,” said a young man working with an NGO. “It comes from abroad. But who can bring such good devices from abroad other than the army. Checks are too strict for anyone else.”
“It is possible that the military bought it and set it off to spread panic and heighten the need for a military presence in the government.”
Over the coming months, “Some constitutional amendments are being proposed that would give the military more powers. They want to stay in power for five more years through a special committee,” said the young man.