Key suspect in Bangkok bombing flees to Turkey

The aftermath of the bombing a month ago. The attack has led to several arrests, but the mastermind is still at large. Picture: AP
The aftermath of the bombing a month ago. The attack has led to several arrests, but the mastermind is still at large. Picture: AP
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Thai police say a key suspect in the August 17 bombing at a Bangkok shrine that killed 20 people has fled to Turkey.

Police had previously said the man, carrying a Chinese passport in the name Abudureheman Abudusataer, may have directed the bombing of the Erawan Shrine.

They had discovered that he left Thailand on August 16 for Bangladesh, and speculated that he might have gone to China.

However, national police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri said that information gathered by Thai police and Bangladeshi officials showed that the man departed Bangladesh on August 30 and travelled to Istanbul in Turkey as his final destination, via Delhi and Abu Dhabi.

Several of the suspects in the bombing case are believed to be Turkish.

Two other key suspects are also in custody, charged with possession of illegal explosives.

One of them was captured at an apartment on the outskirts of Bangkok where police also discovered bomb-making material. The other was caught near the border between Thailand and Cambodia, and police said his fingerprints were found on a container with explosive material confiscated from the apartment.

Yesterday, Malaysia’s police chief announced that a Pakistani and two Malaysians have been detained in connection with the Bangkok bombing.

Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar said that the three were detained a few days ago following a tip-off by Thai authorities. He said one of the Malaysians is a woman.

Among those who died in the blast were five Malaysians from one family. Many of the victims were foreigners as the shrine is a popular destination for tourists and Thais alike.

Khalid did not give details or say where in Malaysia the three were detained, when they will be formally charged, or what the charges would be.

He said Malaysian police will investigate and work with Thai authorities on the detainees.

Thai police say the man who may have actually planted the bomb may have fled across Thailand’s southern border to Malaysia, but Khalid refused to speculate on that.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s military government has detained a reporter for an English-language newspaper, in what appears to be part of a fresh crackdown on critics of the ruling junta.

A spokesman for the junta, Colonel Winthai Suvaree, said in a text message to local reporters that Pravit Rojanaphruk, a senior journalist for The Nation newspaper, had received an “invitation” for a talk with the authorities because of statements that could “cause confusion to the public”.

Pravit has been a high-profile critic of the military regime that took over after a coup in May 2014 toppled an elected civilian government.

After turning himself in on Sunday, Pravit was taken to an unidentified location and is being held incommunicado, according to The Nation. Detainees of the junta usually are held at an army camp.