Thai police to simulate blasts as part of investigations

Craftsmen repairing the statue of the Hindu god of creation damaged during the bomb attack at the Erawan shrine in Bangkok on Aug 17.
Craftsmen repairing the statue of the Hindu god of creation damaged during the bomb attack at the Erawan shrine in Bangkok on Aug 17.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

An arrest warrant will also be issued soon in connection with explosion near Sathorn Pier

BANGKOK • Thailand's police are preparing to simulate the two recent bomb blasts that rocked the centre of Bangkok at an explosion- testing site, as part of their ongoing investigation into the attack that killed 20 people on Aug 17, and the explosion near Sathorn Pier that resulted in no injuries.

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

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

General Jakthip also said the police expected another arrest warrant to be issued soon in connection with the Sathorn Pier blast, but added: "We have not yet concluded whether the explosives in these two cases are the same type."

He described the blast at the Erawan shrine as a "world-level case", though he dismissed suggestions that the description was related to a plot by foreigners to stage violence in Thailand.

National police chief Somyot Poompanmuang said police were still unable to confirm reports that a Turkish extremist group was to blame (for the bombing). But a taxi driver who said he had picked up the suspected bomber told reporters the man was a "foreigner".

"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," he said.

National police chief Somyot Poompanmuang on Tuesday also said they were still unable to confirm reports that a Turkish extremist group was to blame.

But a taxi driver who said he had picked up the suspected bomber told reporters that the man was a "foreigner". Speaking on Tuesday before being interviewed by the police, the 44-year-old cabby, who was not named due to safety reasons, said he had picked up a man who "spoke Thai with a foreign accent", and looked foreign.

According to an informed source, the cabby said he picked up the suspect at Rama IV Road and dropped him off near Hua Lamphong Station, prior to the explosion.

The source said the taxi driver remembered this passenger uttering "Hua Lamphong, Hua Lamphong", with a foreign accent as he got into his cab. "He looked like a foreign tourist. He didn't say anything during the ride. It's as if he was chatting with someone with text messaging," the taxi driver said.

The witness also told police he could not remember exactly what the suspect's bag looked like during the cab ride, but it was clearly different from the bag he saw the man carrying at the Erawan shrine.

The information he provided matched available evidence which appears to show that the suspect hailed a tuk-tuk from in front of Hua Lamphong Station to go to the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel near the Ratchaprasong intersection that same day. "Now, it's clear the suspect must have exchanged his bag with another person in the Hua Lamphong area," a source said.

The Erawan shrine, slightly damaged in the first blast, will take nine days to be restored, Fine Arts Department deputy director Sahaphume Phumtharittirat said yesterday, adding that the works would be completed on Sept 3.

THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2015, with the headline 'Police to simulate blasts as part of investigations'. Print Edition | Subscribe