A foreign man holding a Turkish passport was arrested yesterday in Bangkok's eastern suburbs in connection with the Erawan Shrine bomb attack.
A joint force of police and military officers made the arrest at Poon Anand Apartments in Nong Chok district.
A search of his rented apartment found a large quantity of materials used for making explosives, including ball bearings the same size as those used in the bomb at Erawan Shrine on August 17 and another bomb that went off near Sathorn Pier without causing casualties the following day.
Also found in the suspect's room were fuses, short steel pipes with caps on both sides, and clothes with traces of explosive substances. A thorough search and examination of the suspect's rented apartments continued until last night, a television report said.
"We believe that the suspect was involved with the bombing" at the shrine, Royal Thai Police spokesman Lt-General Prawut Thavornsiri said on a live televised broadcast last evening. He also said the suspect "looks like the one we are looking for".
Prawut said clothes and bomb-making material found in the detained man's room were linked to the shrine attack as well as the blast at Sathorn Pier. "The ball bearing is the same size" as those found at the two blast sites.
About 100 police and military officers - including at least a dozen bomb disposal specialists - gathered outside the apartment block where the man was arrested in possession of bomb-making equipment and multiple passports. Police and military personnel cordoned off the four-storey budget apartment from scores of media and onlookers, and the arrested man could not be seen.
The blast at the city shrine was the worst ever. It killed 20 people dead injured more than 100 others.
The suspect, aged 28, holds a Turkish passport under the name Adem Karadag. According to the passport, he is from Istanbul. However, Prawut said the passport was fake.
The man was accompanied out of his apartment under heavy escort by troops and police, as many people gathered in the area after hearing about the arrest. The suspect was detained for questioning at an unspecified military camp.
Yesterday's arrest was the first in connection with the Erawan Shrine bombing.
Police acted on a tip from the landlord who owned the apartment that the suspect was renting, according to a police source who declined to be named. The landlord grew suspicious because the suspect did not speak Thai and rented five rooms on the same floor of the apartment building, since late July. Local residents told reporters that the suspect had been living in the apartment for two weeks before the Erawan blast.
Deputy national police chief General Jaktip Chaijinda said it was "not yet clear" whether the man is the same one in security-camera images taken on the evening of blast.
Police have been hunting for a prime suspect, described as a foreign man, who was captured on security cameras wearing a yellow t-shirt and leaving a bag at the shrine moments before the blast.
National police chief General Somyot Poompunmuang became obviously annoyed yesterday when a reporter asked him if the arrested man happened to be a scapegoat. He said such a question was "not constructive".