Thai police said Tuesday investigators believe a man seen in security video wearing a yellow T-shirt and carrying a backpack set off the explosion at a central Bangkok shrine that killed at least 20 people and injured more than 100.
“The yellow shirt guy is not just the suspect. He is the bomber,” Police Lt. Gen. Prawut Thavornsiri, a police spokesman, told The Associated Press.
Prawut earlier released several photos of the man, with and without the backpack, on a social media platform. The images were apparently taken from closed-circuit video at Erawan shrine on Monday before the central Bangkok bombing. He confirmed that the man is suspected in the bombing when contacted by The Associated Press.
Video footage posted separately on Thai media appeared to show the same man sitting on a bench at the crowded shrine, then taking off the backpack and leaving it behind as he walked away.
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Posted by Thairath on Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha called Monday’s explosion at a busy intersection “the worst incident that has ever happened in Thailand,” and he promised to track down those responsible.
“There have been minor bombs or just noise, but this time they aimed for innocent lives,” Prayuth said. “They want to destroy our economy, our tourism.”
Without elaborating about possible perpetrators, the prime minister said Tuesday, “Today we have seen the closed-circuit footage, we saw some suspects, but it wasn’t clear. We have to find them first.”
The improvised explosive device scattered body parts, spattered blood, blasted windows and burned motorbikes to the metal. The explosion went off around 7 p.m. in an upscale area filled with tourists, office workers and shoppers. No one has claimed responsibility.
Earlier on Tuesday, there were reports of an explosion at Sathorn pier. The Bangkok Post reported that the bomb was thrown at about 1:20 p.m. local time from the bridge. It bounced into the water and exploded there. There were no injuries reported and it’s unclear if there is any link with Monday’s attack.
Tourists put on alert
On Monday, police said the people behind the deadly Bangkok bombing were aiming for as many lives as they could, and it’s likely that tourists were targeted.
Thailand’s police chief, Somyot Poompummuang, told Thai media that the bombers were targeting the maximum number of casualties by selecting a popular shrine in central Bangkok at rush hour.
The police say those killed in the blast include five Thais, two Chinese, two Hong Kong residents, two Malaysians and one Singaporean.
Erawan Shrine is ranked number 47 of 445 things to do on TripAdvisor, and is a common stop during shopping trips in the city.
Hong Kong raised its travel warning to red, saying residents should “adjust their travel plans and avoid nonessential travel, including leisure travel,” the BBC reported.
The Chinese embassy released a statement cautioning its people to “raise security awareness” of travelling to Thailand, and said more than 20 of the injured people were Chinese.
The bombings could impact Thailand’s tourism industry heavily, especially among the Chinese, which make up a large segment of visitors to Southeast Asian destinations.
Last year, 4.6 million people from mainland China visited Thailand, and that number is expected to grow to 6 million this year, according to the country’s tourism authority.
The tourism industry makes up almost 10% of Thailand’s economy, and the country is counting on Chinese visitors to keep it buoyant. A Capital Economics report from end-2014 said Chinese tourists are among the biggest consumers, spending 10% more than the average visitor.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.