Thai police to simulate bombings as part of Bangkok blast investigation

We are in the process of preparing materials for the simulations," deputy national police chief General Jakthip Chaijinda said yesterday.

The simulations would take place at Hoob Saboo explosion-testing area in Phetchaburi's Cha-am district, he said.

On August 17, an explosion rocked the Erawan Shrine at the Ratchaprasong Intersection, causing 20 deaths and injuring more than 100. Many of the victims were foreigners. On August 18, another blast exploded near the Sathorn Pier, but no one was injured. No arrests have been made yet in connection with either attack.

The court has already approved an arrest warrant for one man suspected of planting the bomb at the Erawan Shrine.

Jakthip said yesterday that police expected another arrest warrant to be issued within a week in connection with the explosion near Sathorn Pier. "We have not yet concluded whether the explosives in these two cases are the same type," he added.

Jakthip described the blast as a "world-level case", though he dismissed suggestions that the description was related to foreigners' plot to stage violence in Thailand. "No, it's not that. I used this description based on the fact that there were a high number of deaths, that such an attack has never occurred in Thailand before, and that it has gained the attention of so many countries," Jakthip said.

National police chief General Somyot Poompanmuang, meanwhile, said yesterday that police were still unable to confirm reports that a Turkish extremist group was to blame for the bombing. A foreign analyst said on Monday that the most likely motive behind the deadly bomb was the general dissatisfaction over the handling, both locally and in China, of the Uighur people who had fled to Thailand.

Anthony Davis, a Bangkok-based security analyst for IHS-Jane's, said the Erawan Shrine bombing on August 17 was possibly "a revenge attack on the Chinese and on the Thai state" by a hybrid group linked to elements in a pan-Turkic group called "The Grey Wolf" the Grey Wolves.

The group, according to Davis, is an "extreme right-wing fascist movement" that has links with organised crime. The Grey Wolves are also believed to have a paramilitary wing and chapters in some parts of Europe, including Berlin.

The Erawan Shrine bombing killed 20 people and injured more than 100 others, many of whom are still being treated.

Davis, who floated the hypothesis at a Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand panel discussion on Monday night about the bombing, said the recent attack on the Thai Consulate in Istanbul was directly related to Thailand's handling of the Uighur issue.

About a hundred Uighur people, who fled to Thailand in the hope of eventually going to Turkey, were forcibly repatriated by Thai authorities to China. "It is essentially a hybrid group. It doesn't have a clear organisational profile," Davis said of the bombers.

Wikipedia refers to the Grey Wolves as a Turkish nationalist organisation, with up to 1.9 million supporters, that has carried out some major operations, including assassinations and bombings. Davis explained that the Grey Wolves had a long-standing history of terrorism in Turkey, adding that the Erawan Shrine bomb was likely the work of a hybrid organisation that had somehow married the Wolves' capability with anger over the Uighur.

Police spokesman Pol Lt-General Prawut Thavornsiri, another panellist, said solving this case was very difficult because it was a first for Thailand. He added that making the bomb would have taken time, and the materials were not easy to find locally. He added that the suspect had tried to avoid facing the many surveillance cameras in the area, suggesting that it was a meticulously planned operation.

Prawut insisted the bomb could not have been just aimed at Chinese tourists. When questioned about the transparency of the investigation, he said the answer would come when the suspect is arrested. "It's just been seven days, not seven years," he said to the question posed by The Nation.