Ceremony for victims of Bangkok shrine bombing

Ceremony for victims of Bangkok shrine bombing

Sombre horns sounded at the site of Bangkok’s deadly bomb blast as officials joined a multi-religious ceremony for victims of this week’s attack.

It was the latest effort to show that the bustling Thailand capital was respectfully, if cautiously, moving on.

Four days after the explosion at the revered Erawan Shrine, at one of Bangkok’s busiest intersections, there were few solid leads into the perpetrators of the deadliest attack in Thailand’s recent history.

Police were still searching for the prime suspect seen in a security video and on Thursday cleared two other men initially believed to be suspects.

In a sign of the concern over more attacks, bomb-sniffing dogs checked the shrine ahead of this morning’s ceremony, where government officials and diplomats laid floral bouquets.

A Brahmin priest poured holy water over the damaged face of the shrine’s centrepiece, a four-headed statue of the Hindu god Brahma that is now missing one chin.

But other signs of the blast have been quickly removed.

Overnight, workers soldered new iron railings to replace those twisted by Monday night’s explosion. The crater left by the blast has been paved over with fresh cement.

After the Hindu ceremony at the shrine, officials held rites for the victims in a multi-religious prayer ceremony attended by Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Sikh and Muslim priests and representatives.

Among the 20 people killed, Thai authorities have identified six victims as Thai and four as Malaysians, along with four mainland Chinese, two people from Hong Kong including a British citizen, one Indonesian and one Singaporean. Two victims remain unidentified.

The attack has raised concerns about safety in a city that draws millions of tourists, but life has returned to normal quickly.

Subways and shopping centres were bustling and aside from bag inspections at stores and hotel entrances, there was little visible extra security.

The authorities have made confusing statements about the investigation, with a military spokesman saying they believe the attack was not the work of international terrorists – a day after police issued an arrest warrant for the prime suspect that described him as a “foreign man”.

So far the firmest clue comes from security camera footage that shows a young man in a yellow T-shirt leaving a backpack at the crowded shrine.

Time stamps on the video show he left the temple about 15 minutes before the explosion.

Two other people seen on the video near the man with the backpack were initially considered suspects but cleared on Thursday after one of them turned himself in and said he was a tour guide and the other was a Chinese tourist.

The two men were seen in the video standing in front of the prime suspect as he removed a backpack and placed it on a bench at the crowded shrine shortly before the blast.

Police have released a sketch of the man with the backpack – depicting him as a young man with eyeglasses and bushy, black hair – and offered a 2 million baht (£36,000) reward for clues leading to his arrest.

Colonel Winthai Suvaree cast doubt on an international connection, and said that Chinese tourists, who were among the victims, were not the “direct target”.

In a televised statement he said: “Security agencies have collaborated with intelligence agencies from allied countries and have come to the same preliminary conclusion that the incident is unlikely to be linked to international terrorism.”

Separately, national police chief Somyot Poompanmoung said they suspected the plot involved at least 10 people but described that figure as speculative.

“I didn’t say there are 10 suspects. I said theoretically they need more than 10 people,” he said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast, sparking a variety of theories into who might be behind it.

One is that the blast was a revenge attack related to Thailand’s recent deportation to China of more than 100 Uighur Muslims, or that it could have been carried out by Islamist groups expanding their reach in south-east Asia.

Other speculation points closer to home. Muslim separatists have been waging an insurgency in southern Thailand since 2004, leaving more than 5,000 people dead, but virtually all their attacks have been confined to the southernmost provinces.

Though there has been little violence aimed at Thailand’s coup, whose leaders have cracked down on dissent, the “Red Shirt” movement that supported the ousted elected government clashed with the military in 2010 protests that left about 90 people dead.

There could even be infighting within the army ahead of an annual military reshuffle.

More on this topic

Thai premier orders probe after four injured in Bangkok blastsThai premier orders probe after four injured in Bangkok blasts

Bangkok bombing suspect 'fled to Turkey'Bangkok bombing suspect 'fled to Turkey'

'Main suspect' arrested in Bangkok bomb probe'Main suspect' arrested in Bangkok bomb probe

Thai police award themselves bonus for Bangkok bomb arrestThai police award themselves bonus for Bangkok bomb arrest


More in this Section

US to proceed with first federal execution in almost 20 yearsUS to proceed with first federal execution in almost 20 years

New Zealand mosque shooter sacks lawyers ahead of sentencingNew Zealand mosque shooter sacks lawyers ahead of sentencing

Covid-19 patients can suffer serious heart damage – studyCovid-19 patients can suffer serious heart damage – study

21 injured after explosion and fire on US navy ship21 injured after explosion and fire on US navy ship


Lifestyle

Conservationist Giles Clark takes on the illegal wildlife trade, as well as the task of building a bear sanctuary in Laos, South-east Asia, in BBC Two series Bears About The House.Five minutes with ... Giles Clark

Forget G-spots. Let's focus on the C-spot and close the orgasm gap once and for all.Sex File: The G-spot is dead. Long live the C-spot

Workshop leaders from the West Cork Literary Festival offer tips for writing in areas such as biography, short stories and travel, writes Des O’DriscollSo you want to be a writer?

'He told us we were so scared of dying, we forgot how to live” - Guru: The Dark Side of Enlightenment is this week's podcast pickPodcast Corner: Guru tells of sweat-lodge tragedy and James Arthur Ray

More From The Irish Examiner