Political motives partly behind Bangkok blast

PHOTO: The Nation/ANN

Police investigators are convinced political motives were also behind last month's Erawan Shrine bombing, besides possible retaliation by human smugglers at the government for cracking down on them, the National Police chief said yesterday.

One of the Thai suspects was involved in the "political bombings" during the unrest in 2010 and last year, Pol General Somyot Poompanmuang told an afternoon press conference at the Royal Thai Police headquarters.

The suspect, identified as Aod Payungwong or Yongyuth Pobkaew, was wanted in 2010 in connection with an explosion at an apartment building in Nonthaburi's Bang |Bua Thong district. Last year, |an arrest warrant was issued for |him in connection with an |explosion in Bangkok's Min Buri district.

Aod was also allegedly involved in many other criminal cases, according to the police chief.

Both of the explosions occurred |at times when protesters took to |the streets against the government at that time - in 2010 against |Abhisit Vejjajiva's administration and last year against Yingluck Shinawatra's.

"A motive was the authorities' crackdown on a Uighur human-trafficking racket. Investigators believe that there are people who hired the perpetrators. Different groups of people were involved and they shared the same objective and desire," Somyot said.

"We can't rule out political motives," because Aod was also involved.

The man is one of the 17 people wanted in connection with the bombings at Erawan Shrine and at Sathorn Pier.

The shrine attack left 20 people dead and more than 100 wounded - mostly foreign tourists.

The two arrested foreign suspects, Bilal Mohammed (earlier identified as Adem Karadag), and Mieraili Yusufu, had confessed - Bilal to planting the bomb at Erawan Shrine on August 17 and Yusufu to assembling the device and then detonating it remotely, according to police. Somyot said yesterday that Adem Karadag was a fake name.

"We'd gathered so much evidence that the suspects could no longer deny their involvement and had to admit that they were involved," Somyot said.

Police did not coerce them, he said.

Somyot, who retires tomorrow, also presented Bt3 million to his deputy and designated successor, Pol General Jakthip Chaijinda, to reward the police and military |officers involved in the arrest of the prime suspects.

Yusufu told police investigators that Aod had provided him with materials to make the explosive device used in the bombing, Somyot said.

Police are hunting for Aod, who has no 13-digit identification number, Metropolitan Police commissioner Lt-General Sriwara Rangsipramanakul said.

Bilal has claimed he is a Turkish citizen and has lived in Istanbul with his family for the past decade. He said he was born in Urumqi in western China. He previously told his lawyer he came to Thailand four days after the bomb attack.

However, the Turkish Embassy so far has been unable to confirm his nationality, his lawyer Choochart Khanphai said yesterday.

The lawyer said he had not had access to his client since Wednesday, as police had the case moved from a civilian court to a military court because of the severity of the crime.

Choochart said the military court granted him permission yesterday to a request in writing for him to meet his client in a day or two.

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