World & Nation

Suspect in Bangkok bombing caught on security camera video

Thai authorities raised the death toll of a major bomb blast in central Bangkok to 22 people on Tuesday, as police searched for a suspect identified in security camera video.

The explosion at the Erawan Shrine, a site of Hindu worship also popular with Thai Buddhists and foreign tourists, happened at about 6:55 p.m. Monday, leaving shattered glass, scorched motorbikes and body parts scattered across the pavement. More than 120 people were injured. 

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, and no motive has yet been established.

“This is the worst incident that has ever happened in Thailand,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters at Bangkok’s Government House on Tuesday, according to the Agence France-Presse news service. “There have been minor bombs or just noise, but this time they aim for innocent lives. They want to destroy our economy, our tourism.” 


On Tuesday afternoon, another bomb exploded at the city’s Sathorn Pier, according to the Bangkok Post. Security camera video posted online showed people running from a large splash of river water. No injuries or damage were reported, and it was unclear whether the incident was related to Monday night’s explosion. 

Several foreigners were killed in Monday’s bombing, including individuals from Britain, China, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, according to media reports. On Tuesday morning, the road near the blast site was still covered in blood and shattered glass.

Chen Yanzhen, a 29-year-old ethnic Chinese in Bangkok, said that after she heard about the explosions, she went to the Chulalongkorn Hospital, a 10-minute drive from the shrine, to volunteer as a translator for afflicted families.

“The scene was really chaotic,” she said. “A lot of people had blood on their clothes; they were all waiting on line to get into the operating room.


“Most of their injuries were from debris -- metal pieces penetrating their bodies,” she continued. “I saw this one little girl, she had a really deep wound, a piece of metal almost reached her bone.” 

Somyot Poompanmuang, the country’s police chief, told the Thai Public Broadcasting Service that police had identified a suspect on security camera video -- a man in a yellow shirt who appears in one image with a backpack, and in later images with none.

“The yellow shirt guy is not just the suspect. He is the bomber,” Police Lt. Gen. Prawut Thavornsiri, a police spokesman, told the Associated Press.

Thai military spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipak told the Los Angeles Times that authorities were still sifting through video images to establish leads.

“We’re quite confident that at the end of the day, [the video] will lead us to the arrest of the suspect,” he said. “At this moment we have dispatched more security officials to the area to ensure the public that security is under control.”

He added that roads near the site of the bombing have been reopened.

Prayuth, the prime minister, said Tuesday that the suspect belonged to an “anti-government group based in Thailand’s northeast,” but he did not give further details.

Monday’s explosion occurred against a backdrop of simmering political tension. In May 2014, a military government took power in a coup, ending months of street protests, and many Thai people are angered by the junta’s repeated postponements of democratic elections. 


Some Thai Internet users on Tuesday speculated that the bombing may have been related to a Muslim insurgency in Thailand’s deep south; others guessed that it may have been intended as retaliation against the government for its recent repatriation of more than 90 ethnic Uighurs to China, where they may face torture or execution.

“People here feel pretty unsafe -- that’s the general feeling among my friends and on social media,” said Pimsiri Mook Petchnamrob, a 29-year-old worker with a nongovernmental organization in Bangkok who was one metro stop away from the Erawan Shrine when the blast occurred. 

“Even the prime minister and the military government, they cannot conclude anything for now,” she said. “It’s all just guesswork and speculation. That’s what’s behind this unsafe feeling -- it’s because we don’t know exactly who is behind this, and what’s going to happen next.”

Tommy Yang in the Times’ Beijing bureau contributed to this report

Follow @JRKaiman on Twitter for news out of Asia


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