Thai authorities played down suggestions that an international terror group was behind the bomb attack at the popular Erawan Shrine in Bangkok that killed 22 people and injured more than 100. "It's unlikely that it's the work of an international terrorist group," said Colonel Winthai Suvaree, a junta spokesman. He added that Thai investigators, in cooperation with agencies from allied countries, came to the preliminary conclusion that Chinese people were not the direct target.
The Erawan Shrine is a Hindu temple also popular with Thai Buddhists and a major landmark for tourists, especially from China. The shrine reopened its doors to the public two days after the bomb blast on 17 August. Most of the victims of the attack were Thai, but nationals from China, Hong Kong, UK, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore were among the 11 foreigners killed.
No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing but authorities said the suspect is part of a wider "network" of 10 people. Thai police asked Interpol for help in finding the suspect in yellow shirt and shorts who was filmed by a CCTV camera leaving a backpack at the shrine. Police say two other suspects were also identified in CCTV footage of the blast site.
The new development will trigger speculations that Muslim separatists involved in an insurgency in southern Thailand or anti-government activists were involved in the attack. Earlier, investigators said they were assessing whether Uighur militants from far-western China are behind the attack. Thailand recently deported dozens of Uighurs to China sparking widespread criticism.
Police sent Interpol an image of a suspect caught on video, but checks at airports and other exit points found that one one matching the description left the country since the attack. A ฿1m (£17,869) reward has been offered to anyone who can give police information leading to his arrest.