Thai police investigating CCTV showing suspicious bag drop

2015-08-22 13:10
Released by Royal Thai Police spokesman Lieutenant General Prawut Thavornsiri shows a man wearing a yellow T-shirt near the Erawan Shrine before an explosion occurred in Bangkok, Thailand. (Royal Thai Police, AP)

Released by Royal Thai Police spokesman Lieutenant General Prawut Thavornsiri shows a man wearing a yellow T-shirt near the Erawan Shrine before an explosion occurred in Bangkok, Thailand. (Royal Thai Police, AP)

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Bangkok -  Thai police on Saturday said they were investigating new security camera footage showing a man dropping a package into a canal as the hunt for those behind Monday's deadly Bangkok bomb blast entered its fifth day without arrests.

CCTV video widely circulated by local media on Saturday showed a man in a blue t-shirt kicking the package off a footbridge in the same spot where a device exploded on Tuesday without injuries.

That second blast intensified anxiety in an already rattled city, following Monday's bomb attack on a religious shrine in Bangkok's commercial heart that cut down 20 people and wounded scores more.

Authorities have not ruled out a link between the two explosions.

Information 'confusing'

The shrine bomb killed mostly ethnic Chinese tourists from across Asia, and has left police scrambling to find the assailants.

Police are convinced the attack was planned and coordinated by a network and insist their investigation is making progress despite days of unclear and sometimes conflicting statements.

National police spokesperson Prawut Thavornsiri confirmed that the new footage was being examined to decide whether the man dropping the package into the water near Saphan Thaksin pier was a suspect.

"We have to verify the information," he told told AFP adding the situation was "still confusing".

The unverified footage is time-stamped just a few minutes after Monday's blast, which struck at 18.55 pm.

It shows the man in the blue t-shirt carrying something heavy in a plastic bag. He goes to the side of a footbridge, places the bag down and then uses his mobile phone.

Around a minute later he pushes the bag into the canal with his foot, kicking up a visible splash of water.

The following day, shortly after 13:00 on Tuesday, an explosion went off in the canal, which is near a popular tourist pier, sending people scurrying for cover but causing no injuries.

Hunt for main suspect continues

Until now the search for the perpetrator of Monday's attack has focused on a primary suspect in a yellow t-shirt seen placing a heavy rucksack under a bench at the shrine.

Moments later the blast struck, scattering body parts, glass and debris over a bustling Bangkok shopping district.

Prawut on Saturday said there was no further update on the investigation into the main suspect, who has been described in an arrest warrant as an unnamed foreign man.

Asked whether the man in the blue t-shirt and the yellow t-shirt could be the same perpetrator he said: "It's likely the two men are different."

With no-one claiming responsibility for the bombing, rumours and speculation have swirled in Thailand over the country's worst single mass casualty attack in living memory.

The potential perpetrators named by police and experts alike include international jihadists, members of Thailand's southern Malay-Muslim insurgency, militants on both sides of Thailand's festering political divide and even someone with a personal grudge.

Bangkok in crisis

Uighur militants from China have also been mooted as possible perpetrators as the shrine is popular with Chinese visitors.

Bangkok is in the grip of a decade-long political crisis that has been punctuated by violence, albeit mostly shootouts and small grenade or pipe bomb attacks.

On one side stands the military, backed by the middle class and elite.

On the other, the rural and urban poor loyal to populist politician Thaksin Shinawatra, toppled in a 2006 coup, and his sister Yingluck who was forced out of office days before the current junta seized power last year.

Experts say neither side had much to gain by launching an attack of Monday's scale, risking opprobrium from both the Thai public and international community.

Thaksin has voiced outrage over the assault and distanced himself from any suggestion that militants loyal to him might have played a part in the carnage.

Late Friday, Thaksin's eldest son said he had more than doubled the reward offered by police for the capture of the main suspect by putting up nearly $200 000.

The total reward money on offer from both police and private citizens now stands at around $335,000.

Read more on:    thailand  |  security

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