BANGKOK, 31 August 2015: Police in Thailand are scrambling to find accomplices as they interrogate a foreign man whom investigators say is linked to the deadly bomb blast at Bangkok’s Erawan religious shrine.
His arrest on Saturday is the first major success since the unprecedented and unclaimed 17 August attack that killed 20 people, mostly ethnic Chinese from across Asia.
More than 120 people were in injured in the attack.
Here is what we know about the latest in the investigation:
Police say they believe he is part of a people-smuggling and passport forgery gang who might have hit back against authorities after a series of raids.
That theory would for the first time give them a motive.
The unidentified foreigner was seized Saturday morning. Investigators say he was found with bomb-making equipment and dozens of fake passports.
Senior military figures in the junta-run kingdom are convinced he is linked to the bombing but have not detailed what role he may have played.
Army chief Udomdej Sitabutr told AFP Sunday the detainee suspect was “absolutely involved” in the bomb attack.
Defence Minister Prawit Wongswuwon said he was also sure the suspect was involved and police had “excellent” evidence.
– What happens now? -Investigators are scrambling to find other members of this gang. They are trawling more than 1,000 phone numbers and hundreds of seized fake passports.
On Sunday afternoon they conducted searches in a northeastern district of Bangkok, close to where the first man was detained. Both are mainly Muslim areas.
– Any further clues to who the man is? – Police appear to be still trying to establish the man’s identity but some new information has come out.
We now know he speaks some English. Among the translators used in an attempt to get him to talk is an English speaker.
Police won’t be drawn on what other translators they are using.
“We think he can speak English and other languages,” said national police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri.
The man was in possession of dozens of Turkish passports but police said they were fake.
– Is the man talking? -No. Police say they began their interrogation at 0700 Sunday but so far he is being uncooperative.
“He doesn’t provide much,” Prawut said “[He said] where he came from but we don’t believe him. We need other evidence like DNA from his clothes and data from his mobile phone.”
“The interrogation is not making progress because the suspect is not really giving useful information,” army chief General Udomdej Sitabutr added.
– Why would a people-smuggling gang attack a shrine? -That’s the question police have yet to answer.
The Erawan shrine is popular with tourists, particularly ethnic Chinese. Any attacker would have known that planting a bomb at such a crowded place would kill numerous civilians, including tourists.
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