Bangkok shrine bombing suspect in is a Uighur who fled to Turkey, say Thai police

Police have said the man may have directed the bombing of the Erawan Shrine

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A key suspect in last month’s bombing at a Bangkok shrine that killed 20 people has fled to Turkey, Thai police have said. This bolsters the view that the attack could be the work of members of China’s ethnic Uighur minority, who have sympathisers in Turkey.

Police had previously said the man, carrying a Chinese passport under the name Abudureheman Abudusataer, may have directed the bombing of the Erawan Shrine on 17 August. The preliminary investigation had him leaving Thailand on 16 August for Bangladesh. Police had speculated he may have gone from there to China.

Abudureheman Abudusataer is wanted for the attack on Erawan Shrine, which killed 20 people (EPA)

However, national police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri said that information gathered by Thai police and Bangladeshi officials now showed that suspect leaving Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, on 30 August and travelling to Istanbul in Turkey, via Delhi and Abu Dhabi. Istanbul was “his final destination”, he said. “It’s clear.”

This may strengthen the theory that those behind the blast are Uighurs from the Chinese region of Xinjiang who have close ties to Turkey. Several of the 12 bombing suspects for whom arrest warrants have been issued are believed to be Turkish.

Uighurs complain of oppression by the Chinese government, and some advocate turning Xinjiang into a separate Uighur state.

After weeks of demurring, Thailand has suggested that those behind the blast may have been from a gang involved in smuggling Uighurs. But others speculate they may be separatists or Islamist extremists angry that Thailand repatriated more than 100 Uighurs to China in July.

Efforts to identify the members of the network believed responsible for the bombing continued on Sunday, when police in Bangkok raided an apartment allegedly linked to a bombing suspect. Police said no bomb-making materials were found in the apartment, which is in a building that serves as a hostel for women. Thai media reported that the two tenants and a guest were taken away for questioning.

Two other key suspects are also in custody, charged with possession of explosives. One of them was captured from an apartment on the outskirts of Bangkok where police also discovered bomb-making material. The other was caught near the border between Thailand and Cambodia, and police said his fingerprints were found on a container with explosive material confiscated from the apartment.

Malaysia’s police chief announced that a Pakistani and two Malaysians had been arrested in connection with the Bangkok bombing.