Thai police widen search for more bombing suspects

NewsBy Neil Fetherston
Thai policemen take evidence at an apartment on the outskirts of Bangkok
Thai policemen take evidence at an apartment on the outskirts of Bangkok

Police probing Thailand's deadliest bombing raided a second location and widened their search for more suspects today after a foreigner was arrested and stacks of fake passports and bomb-making materials found at a Bangkok apartment block.

Authorities said police were monitoring about 1,000 mobile phone numbers and checking photographs used in around 200 seized passports to track down members of an unspecified group they believe orchestrated the 17 August attack on a Hindu shrine in Bangkok.

The bombing killed 20 people and stunned Thailand.

Fourteen foreigners, seven from mainland China and Hong Kong, were among those killed in a blast the ruling junta said was intended to cripple an already flagging Thai economy.

Police have not confirmed the identity or nationality of the 28-year-old man they arrested on Saturday in the city's Nong Chok area.

They believe he was also involved in a second, smaller bombing in the Thai capital a day after the attack at the crowded Erawan Shrine, to which Thais and Asian tourists flock daily.

Security forces with sniffer dogs raided a low-budget apartment block with many Muslim residents in nearby Min Buri district today.

They questioned residents and the owner during searches of 30 rooms and an official said no suspicious materials were found.

The man is being held on charges of possessing illegal explosives and has been in Thailand since January 2014.

"We're not only using information about phone usage from this man, but also usage of the group," police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri said.

Mr Prawut did not elaborate on what group that might be.

Police have been criticised for an erratic investigation that had, until this weekend, uncovered few clues about who was behind the blast. No group has claimed responsibility.

Mr Prawut declined to say how many suspects were being sought and said police still believed the arrested man could be the yellow-shirted individual with shaggy dark hair picked out on a surveillance camera leaving a bag at the site of the blast.