Thai police say trail for bomber has gone cold

Thai police say trail for bomber has gone cold
Experts investigate at the Erawan shrine, the site of a deadly blast in central Bangkok August 17, 2015.
PHOTO: Reuters

ALTHOUGH the authorities reported progress yesterday in the investigation into the August 17 bombing in Bangkok, police admitted that the trail in the hunt for the bomber had gone cold.

National police chief Pol General Somyot Poompanmuang said yesterday that police were unsure whether the man who planted the explosive at the Erawan Shrine was still in Thailand. "We don't know if the suspect is still in the country, but I have to assume he is, because we have no information about him leaving," he said.

He also said that sooner or later, he was confident the culprit would be arrested.

"The police are working non-stop every day. For as long as I'm alive, I'm confident that the culprit will be arrested. Though I will retire soon, my successor will continue working on this case," he said.

The national police chief admitted that the bombing was the work of a professional and that the attack had been well planned, adding that the perpetrator had changed his mode of transport a few times before arriving at the shrine.

"He certainly wanted to cause confusion and make it difficult to trace him," Somyot said.

The explosion killed 20 people and injured more than 100 others. Up to 50 of the injured are still being treated in hospital.

Somyot also blamed the shortage of devices for the slow progress in investigation. He said police were looking to purchase a device that uses biometric technology to identify criminals based on their physical characteristics.

Meanwhile, National Council for Peace and Order spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvari said in a TV broadcast that the government has obtained information from foreign intelligence agencies about possible suspects who may be involved in the bombing. He said this information would help with the investigation.

Winthai explained that the blanket raids on locations frequented by tourists as part of the hunt for the bomber and his accomplices had led to the arrest of 139 suspects for the possession of firearms, ammunition and illicit drugs.

Police are also trying to identify the bomber through DNA tests. A senior forensics expert said yesterday that police were going to test pieces of the backpack containing the explosive device in the hope they might find a DNA sample of the culprit. Though the heat of the explosion may have destroyed all DNA traces.

As for testing two Bt20 (S$0.79) banknotes the bomber handed to a motorcycle taxi driver, who had driven him away from the site of the blast, the source said those notes had not been handed to the forensics division.

Meanwhile, security measures at Government House have been heightened and parking in areas adjacent to the compound has been prohibited. Also, the Sunday market regularly held near the compound has been cancelled immediately without prior notice.

See also: More stories on the Bangkok bombing

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