Golden statue at Bangkok blast site restored

2015-09-04 09:12
The restored statue of Phra Phrom, the Thai interpretation of the Hindu god Brahma stands in Bangkok, Thailand. (Sakchai Lalit, AP)

The restored statue of Phra Phrom, the Thai interpretation of the Hindu god Brahma stands in Bangkok, Thailand. (Sakchai Lalit, AP)

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Bangkok (dpa) - The damaged Hindu statue at central Bangkok's Erawan shrine was unveiled on Friday following restoration, after a bomb attack at the site last month killed 20 and injured scores.

The culture ministry said it hopes the restoration will also "restore confidence in the country's safety and bring good fortune to the people".

The Hindu temple in the shopping district of Ratchaprasong houses Brahma, the Hindu god of creation.

A joint religious ceremony incorporating Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam and Christianity was held to honour the six Hindu God statues around the area, and unveil the repaired golden Brahma statue whose face was damaged in the bombing.

Eight arrest warrants have been issued and three suspects arrested, including a man thought to have been captured by security cameras leaving a backpack at the shrine minutes before it exploded.

The Turkish embassy in Bangkok on Thursday expressed its concern about "false information given in certain press reports that this person is a Turkish citizen".

Bomb-making materials

The unidentified suspect, the first arrest in the case, reportedly used a fake passport to travel from Turkey to Vietnam before entering Thailand through the Thai-Cambodian border.

His apartment was raided by security forces on Saturday, and fake Turkish passports and bomb-making materials were found.

The arrest led authorities on Sunday to another suspect's apartment, where more bomb-making materials were found.

The fingerprints found on the bomb-making materials match those of the second suspect, identified by authorities as Chinese citizen Yusufu Mieraili. He was arrested on Tuesday near the Thai-Cambodian border. He is believed to be the prime suspect in the case. He has admitted being at the shrine but denied planting the bomb.

The suspects belong to "a very large network" comprised of both Thai and foreign elements, Police Chief Somyot Poompanmoung said.

The apartment raided on Sunday is owned by Thai citizen Wanna Suansan, who is currently in Turkey and is wanted for questioning by Thai authorities.

Regional terror groups

Wanna said she is innocent and that she planned to return to Thailand to defend herself.

Authorities on Wednesday also issued an arrest warrant for Wanna's husband, Emrah Davutoglu, who is also believed to be in Turkey, where he is thought to be a citizen.

The Post Today newspaper reported on Thursday that Thai police arrested a third person suspected of involvement in last month's attack. He was allegedly in contact via phone with Wanna.

Security analysts said the bomb attack in central Bangkok did not fit the pattern of local and regional terror groups.

Some speculated that the most likely culprits were Turkish far-right groups unhappy with Thailand's deportation of Uighur refugees back to China in July. Uighurs are a Muslim ethnic minority in north-western China wjp speaks a language related to Turkish.

Tourism to the country, which contributes more than 10 per cent to gross domestic product, dropped 7 per cent in the wake of the attack, according to the tourism ministry.

Read more on:    thailand  |  security

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