Law enforcement officials in Thailand reported earlier this morning that they have video of a suspect in the bombing that took place yesterday at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok. Footage from a surveillance security video camera shows a man in a yellow t-shirt wearing a backpack sitting on a bench at the bustling shrine.
The footage then shows the man removing the backpack, leaving it behind and immediately walking away from the shrine. Police Lieutenant General Prawut Thavornsiri told reporters this morning that, “The yellow shirt guy is not just the suspect. He is the bomber.”
The bomb killed 22 people from several different countries and injured 123 others. The explosive was apparently a pipe bomb packed with shrapnel to maximize the impact. One witness stated that, “The impact was so strong it sucked us forward and then pushed us back.” As of yet, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Thai government claimed that the attack during Monday’s rush hour (alleged as the worst in Thailand’s history) was aimed at destroying Thailand’s economy. Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha stated that, “It is apparent that there are active individuals or groups that harbor the intention to damage Thailand [by] damaging the economy and tourism.”
Finance Minister Sommai Phasee told reporters that, “This will have an impact on tourism. But it’s difficult to estimate the impact on [the country’s gross domestic product] because we are in the off-season now. We will have to wait until October for a clearer impact. We are praying that tourists will forget about this incident by then.”
Police have not ruled out any potential suspects in the blast, which came at a difficult time for the Thai government. Some say the blast could be related to the Muslim conflict in the south of Thailand, but the political violence previously caused by the group has been restricted to the southern provinces and has never targeted the country’s capital.
Others have suggested that the Muslim Uighur minority in China could be involved as they are upset that Thailand recently forcibly deported Uighur refugees back to China. Still others feel the bombing could be related to a faction’s unhappiness with the Thai military government. Last May, the military took over the country in a coup, removing an elected government and some groups have voiced their opposition to the scheme.
The Erawan shrine honors the Hindu god Brahma. It is visited by thousands of tourists every day and is situated in the middle of a busy intersection, sitting between a luxury hotel and popular shopping center. Officials state that Monday’s bomb was “clearly placed to cause maximum casualties.” The Prime Minister vowed in a televised address to bring those responsible for the “heinous” crime to justice.
A few hours after the bombing took place, a second explosive device was thrown from a bridge into a river in the Thai capital. It is unclear if the two bombings are related.