08/19/2015, 00.00
THAILAND
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Bangkok temple reopens after attack. Police still looking for suspect

A group of monks led prayers at the Hindu temple Erawan, famous even among Thai Buddhists. Also yesterday, a second bomb exploded without causing damage or injuries. Investigators are hunting for a young man, who left a backpack in the place of the attack and then fled. Still no official claims as motivation remain unknown.

Bangkok (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A group of Thai monks led prayers for the reopening of the Erawan Hindu temple in central Bangkok, the theater of the attack on 17 August that killed more than 20 people and wounded more than a hundred.

The place of worship is also popular among Buddhists and many today, early this morning, paid tribute to the temple and to the victims of the attack, which include several foreign tourists. A relative of some victims of Malaysian nationality placed a parcel containing clothes, to symbolize their loved ones who died in the explosion.

Yesterday there was a second attack, when an explosive device was thrown onto a Bangkok port dock; the explosion caused no deaths or injuries. The authorities are not ruling out (for now) a connection between the two incidents, although at the moment there are still no official claims for the two attacks.

Local sources report that this morning there were no special security measures around the temple where the attack occurred. The public could access the place of worship without controls or inspections. Only a few hours before the area had been cleaned of the remains of the victims and bodies torn a part by the explosion.

The attack in the heart of the Thai capital, the "worst ever" for the prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, caused the death of at least 11 foreigners, including citizens of China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and a family from Malaysia . Experts say the violence could lead to a further crackdown on security and public order by the government - led by the military- as the country slides towards a "military dictatorship."

Meanwhile, police investigations continue, with the investigators involved in chasing a suspect identified by surveillance cameras in the area. The images show a young man, wearing a yellow T-shirt and a backpack, going inside the temple, calmly depositing backpack on a bench, and then melting away into the crowd.

As he left the scene of the attack, the young man (pictured) is holding a plastic bag  and with the other hand seems to have a smartphone, even if the images are not clear and the movements of the suspect cannot be identified with certainty. A few minutes later the explosion occurred.

Major General Weerachoon Sukhontapatipak, spokesman for the Thai military government army, said that the authorities are "very close" to identifying the suspect framed by CCTV. Prawut Thawornsiri, police spokesman, adding that investigators are also looking for accomplices. "This type of attack - he said - are generally not planned by one person."

So far, the reasons behind the attack are still unknown. Premier Prayuth is open to all hypotheses, but believes the attack  is "politically motivated" in an attempt to "undermine the economy and tourism". In the past, Thailand was caught up in a long running political crisis, with street demonstrations and clashes. However, they never resulted in violence or bomb attacks in public places of this magnitude. The violence of Muslim separatists in the south of the country, whose guerilla war has caused about 6,400 deaths, usually remain confined to the former conflict areas.

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