By JESSADA JANTARAK,
PM dismisses police claim, blames human traffickers for blasts
THE BANGKOK bombing was the handiwork of an international human-trafficking network seeking retaliation against Thailand for the return of 109 Uighur to China and a crushing crackdown on their underground activities, police said yesterday.
“They got angry. They are from the same gang that attacked the Thai Consulate in Turkey,” national police chief General Somyot Poompanmuang said.
This is the first time that the Thai authorities have directly linked the bomb attack with the deportation of trafficked Uighur.
However Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha rushed to dismiss the police statement saying nobody had claimed responsibility for the bomb. “At this stage, there is no link. I don’t think so. It could be a normal crime and by ordinary human traffickers,” he said.
A team of senior Thai police was heading for Malaysia after reports that three suspects arrested by Malaysian police may have been linked with the Bangkok bombing.
Last month, two explosions rocked the Thai capital. The one on August 17 at the popular Erawan Shrine killed 20 people and wounded more than 100 others. At least five Chinese tourists were killed and many others hospitalised. The other blast on the following day at the Sathorn Pier caused no casualties.
The bombings in the heart of Bangkok shocked the entire nation, as no such attacks had ever taken place on Thai soil. They also hit the economy hard.
‘Deportations in line with law’
Somyot said that the deportation of the 109 Uighur to China was in line with international law, and that Thai authorities had repatriated illegal migrants to their home countries, not just China.
Thai authorities have issued arrest warrants for 12 suspects and are holding two of them at a temporary facility in a military base. Colonel Winthai Suvari, spokesman for the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), defended the choice of the detention location, saying their case was related to national security.
“It is also convenient for investigators who still need to interrogate the suspects and bring witnesses to identify them,” he said.
Deputy National Police chief General Chakthip Chaijinda left for Malaysia along with Special Branch Police chief Lt-General Chaiwat Getvorachai and deputy chief Maj-General Chanthep Sesavej. The team is expected to follow up on reports that the three suspected human smugglers arrested in Malaysia might have had some links to the Bangkok blasts. “Thailand and Malaysia will exchange information,” Somyot said.
Chakthip refused to speak to the media before his departure, other than saying that he “will return on Thursday”. Somyot said Thai authorities were still investigating the whereabouts of Abu Dustar Abdulrahman, or Izan, and the yellow-shirt man – two key suspects wanted for the bomb blasts.
A foreign news agency said a senior official of the Turkish government had recently denied that Izan had entered Turkey after the blasts. “We are investigating the matter,” he said.
Ties with gang
A Metropolitan Police source said one of the three women arrested at an apartment on Sunday had personal ties with a gang that helped the bomb suspects sneak into Thailand.
“We are preparing to seek an arrest warrant for her,” the source said.
This 39-year-old woman had taken the suspected bomber to the apartment rented by two university students and asked for their permission to leave some of his things there. The two students knew nothing about the bomb plot and have been released, the source added.
Police expect the military to transfer the woman to them on Saturday.