EMBASSY SAYS ARRESTED MAN ISN'T A TURK; SUSPECT HAS LIVED IN NONG CHOK SINCE JUNE
THE FOREIGN suspect arrested by police on Saturday for his alleged link to the August 17 bombing of the Erawan Shrine moved into Pool Anant Apartment in Bangkok's Nong Chok district sometime in June along with another foreigner believed to be Turkish, according to the building supervisor.
Thanakorn Wiwannakorn, 60, who has been the apartment's supervisor for over a decade, told police the 28-year-old suspect and his friend were quiet and mostly stayed inside their room on the fourth floor.
Other apartment tenants said one of them had a dark complexion, coming and going at regular hours, while the other hardly left the room and apparently got a haircut and shaved his beard a few weeks ago.
A source at the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) said military and police officials questioned the suspect on Saturday night and recorded the whole interrogation. They intend to question him more about renting the apartment room, bomb equipment and fake passports found in the room.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Embassy said the suspect arrested on Saturday was not a Turkish national.
Yesterday, police searched an apartment in Nong Chok after receiving a tip that two suspicious foreigners resided there. The apartment was identified as Ton Koon Mansion on Soi Chuam Samphun 3, near Pool Anant Apartment.
Earlier, police found two bags of urea fertiliser and other bomb-making ingredients at Mai-moo-na Garden, in nearby Min Buri district.
Police found no additional suspects at these locations.
Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda said police believe several suspects in the network were involved in the deadly bombing at Erawan Shrine, and that they were also connected with the attack on the pier near Sathorn Bridge the following day. A team consisting of four or five investigators is working on this case and they urged the public to be the eyes and ears of law enforcement.
Meanwhile, police believe the Shrine bomb suspect was prepared to carry out more attacks in other locations, judging from evidence found in his room.
According to Police spokesman Pol Lt-General Prawut Thawornsiri, evidence found inside the suspect's room included detonating chords similar to the detonating chord found at the related blast at the pier near Sathorn Bridge.
The August 17 bombing at the Erawan Shrine at Ratchaprasong intersection, a popular tourist destination, killed 20 people including foreign visitors and injured 171 others. The attack at the pier near Sathorn Bridge the following day resulted in no casualties.
The bombing suspect is being detained for questioning at the Infantry Battalion of the 11th Army Circle under martial law.
Prawut said it was not yet clear if the suspect was responsible for the attack at the Erawan Shrine or the pier near Sathorn Bridge but police believe he was a member of the network responsible for those attacks.
He said police were waiting for the results of a DNA test from a banknote the bomber used to pay his taxi fare and other samples found in the taxi.
Prawut said the suspect denied that he was a collaborator in the bomb attack. He had told police how he came into the country but police did not believe him.
Prawut denied reports that the suspect travelled from Istanbul and came to Thailand via Vietnam and Laos, saying police initially found the suspect stayed in an Asian country before travelling to Thailand.
Prawut said the police obtained pictures of other members of the gang and were checking their identities and nationalities. Immigration officials have been instructed to prevent other suspected gang members from leaving the country.
Police have not ruled out other possible motives for the bomb attack though they believe that it could be a personal vendetta after police crackdowns on foreigners.
Police also found evidence from a signal on the suspect's phone that he travelled to a location that was linked to the bomb attack. Prawut declined to say if that location was Hua Lam Phong train station, where the bomb suspect was seen hailing a tuk-tuk to take him to Erawan Shrine.
Prawut said a taxi driver was summoned for questioning several times because he gave conflicting statements that contradicted evidence. The telephone information also showed that the taxi driver contacted the suspect several times.
After the suspect was arrested on Saturday, the Turkish government sent a letter pledging to give Thailand its full support to fight terrorism.