Lack of equipment slowing Bangkok bomb inquiry - police

CCTV footage of backpack being left at Erawan Shrine is still the strongest evidence

Nearly a week after a bomb blast in Thailand killed 20 people, authorities appear no closer to identifying suspects or a motive, with police saying on Sunday a lack of modern equipment was hampering their investigation.

The blast last Monday at one of the capital’s most famous shrines, packed with Asian visitors, will inevitably dent the tourist industry, one of the economy’s few bright spots.

Economic woes could undermine the military government as it steers the country towards an election next year under a new constitution which critics say will not end a decade of turbulent politics in the country.

Left backpack

The strongest evidence concerning the blast appears to be grainy CCTV footage of a young man who left a backpack at the Erawan Shrine before the explosion. He then disappeared on a motorcycle taxi.


Authorities have issued confusing and at times contradictory statements about the suspect’s appearance, the number of accomplices he might have had and the likelihood of foreign involvement.

National police chief Somyot Pumpanmuang said progress was being made but a lack of equipment was a problem.

“We don’t have modern tools to support our work ... we have difficulties with technology and data,” he told reporters, without elaborating. “We have to wait for co-operation from abroad to come and help with this equipment.”

Police are also investigating another piece of CCTV footage that could provide clues to who was responsible for a small blast on Tuesday at a river pier that caused no injuries - a day after the Erawan Shrine blast.

Police said they were investigating the footage of a man who appeared to push a bag off a walkway into the river, about 18 hours before the explosion. They have not confirmed the blasts were linked.

Hindu deity

The Erawan Shrine, dedicated to a Hindu deity, is hugely popular with tourists from China, and seven of the 14 foreigners among the dead were from mainland China and Hong Kong.

Police initially speculated Muslim ethnic Uighurs from western China might have been responsible but officials later cast doubt on an international link and said Chinese nationals had not been particularly targeted in the attack.

Muslims waging a low-level insurgency in southern Thailand have never been known to carry out such an attack and neither have activists from a decade-long struggle for power between the establishment and populist former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

The government has offered $85,000 (€54,000) for information leading to the arrest of the bomber, and the family of the self-exiled Mr Thaksin has offered $200,000, the Bangkok Post reported.

As the hunt for the bomber went on, authorities said two people had been arrested for spreading “confusing information” regarding the incident on social media.