Erawan Shrine bombing
Suspect Yusufu Mierili walks with police officers during a crime re-enactment near the Erawan ShrineReuters

Thai authorities said the alleged mastermind of a deadly bombing at a Bangkok shrine has fled to Turkey and not to China as originally believed. Abudureheman Abudusataer, a Chinese national from the Xinjiang region, who police believe had a key role in organising the 17 August attack, left Thailand on the eve of the blast at the Erawan Shrine that killed 20 people, police said.

The 27-year-old flew out to Bangladesh from where detectives originally thought he travelled to Beijing. However, police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri said new evidence suggests he reached Istanbul instead via Abu Dhabi.

"He departed Dhaka on 30 August for Delhi by Jet Airways," Prawut said. "From Delhi, he continued his [journey] to Abu Dhabi, and from Abu Dhabi he travelled on 31 August to Istanbul. This is his final destination. It's clear."

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but the developments seem to support the theory that it might be the work of Uighur militants. Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking Muslim ethnic group related to Turks who have been leading a separatist struggle in Xinjiang. They have reasons to be angry with the Thai government, which recently handed back to Beijing more than 100 Uighur migrants who had sought asylum in Thailand. Also other suspects held in the probe have ties to Turkey, which is home to a large Uighur community.

In recent weeks, Thai police arrested another two men who allegedly helped prepare and deliver the explosive device. The first, named by local media as Adem Karadag, was held during a raid at a flat in an eastern suburb where explosive materials and a stash of passports were found. He is believed to be a Turkish national.

His arrest was followed by that of Yusufu Mierili, a 25-year-old foreign national that local media also said is from the restive Xinjiang. He has admitted handing a backpack filled with explosives to the bomber.