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Second Suspect in Bangkok Bombing Admits to Being at Bomb Scene

Thai police escort a suspect (centre) arrested on the Thai side of the Cambodian border on 1 September in connection with the bomb attack in Bangkok

Thai police escort a suspect (centre) arrested on the Thai side of the Cambodian border on 1 September in connection with the bomb attack in Bangkok

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BANGKOK – The Thai police said Wednesday that their main suspect in a deadly attack on a Bangkok shrine has a Chinese passport indicating he is from the far western region of Xinjiang, but that they had not yet verified whether the passport was authentic.

The Thai police have yet to release the name of the man said to have been in possession of the Chinese passport. They announced Tuesday that he had been arrested along the border with Cambodia, and that he had been trying to flee the country. That account was contradicted by some officials quoted in Thai and Cambodian news media, who said the man had been arrested in Cambodia and handed over to Thailand.

On Wednesday, the police said the man’s fingerprints matched those found on what they described as bomb-making materials that were seized in a raid on a suburban Bangkok apartment over the weekend.

the man’s fingerprints matched those found on what they described as bomb-making materials

the man’s fingerprints matched those found on what they described as bomb-making materials

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“We can confirm that the man was involved in the blast,” Prawut Thavornsiri, a spokesman for the police, said. “He may be the person who carried the bomb out of the apartment or brought the bomb to the crime scene.”

However according to a Bangkok Post reoprt Deputy Police chief Chakthip Chaijinda says the suspect has admitted to being at the Erawan shrine bombing scene but denied placing the bomb.

Until Wednesday, the Thai police had not disclosed the nationality of the man arrested Tuesday or of an additional suspect, described only as a “foreign man,” who was arrested Saturday with a counterfeit Turkish passport. That man’s nationality remains unknown.

The Turkish Embassy in Bangkok said Wednesday that it had asked the Thai Foreign Ministry for information about the man arrested Saturday, and about stacks of Turkish passports, also possibly counterfeit, that were found in his apartment. In an emailed statement, the embassy said it was ”awaiting an official reply from the Thai authorities.”

Until Wednesday, the Thai police had not disclosed the nationality of the man arrested Tuesday or of an additional suspect, described only as a “foreign man,” who was arrested Saturday with a counterfeit Turkish passport. That man’s nationality remains unknown.

The Turkish Embassy in Bangkok said Wednesday that it had asked the Thai Foreign Ministry for information about the man arrested Saturday, and about stacks of Turkish passports, also possibly counterfeit, that were found in his apartment. In an emailed statement, the embassy said it was ”awaiting an official reply from the Thai authorities.”

Thailand’s failure to adequately secure its borders has been acknowledged by some officials. The country has long been known as a destination for criminals on the lam, who take advantage of its lax law enforcement to hide, sometimes for decades. Periodic attempts to remedy this situation have foundered.

Anusit Kunakorn, the secretary general of the National Security Council, said Wednesday that the country had trouble with border security and that officials responsible for it would come under closer scrutiny. “The prime minister may have to launch some punishment,” Mr. Anusit said.

He added, “We gain benefits from tourism, but at the same time the benefits of being an open country come hand in hand with the illegal acts. Several gangs may have come and stayed in our country.”

Thailand has denied the news reports saying that the suspect arrested Tuesday had slipped across the border into Cambodia. Yet the morning of the arrest, the Thai chief of police, Somyot Poompanmoung, said six immigration officers at a checkpoint in the border town of Aranyapathet had been transferred to other posts.

Mr. Somyot said the officers were being investigated on suspicion of being “accomplices or giving assistance or gaining benefit from human trafficking networks.”

Mr. Prawut, the police spokesman, said Thailand would soon introduce a biometric system in an effort to crack down on fake travel documents. “We have to be stricter in terms of entering and leaving the country,” he said. “It must not be as easy as it was.”

Emrah Davutoglu

Emrah Davutoglu is married to Wanna Suansan, a Thai woman who is also being sought by the police.

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In another development Wednesday, the Thai police issued an arrest warrant for Emrah Davutoglu, a Turkish man who was charged with possession of war materials without permission. The police did not elaborate on Mr. Davutoglu’s supposed involvement in the case, but they said he is married to Wanna Suansan, a Thai woman who is also being sought by the police.

Ms. Wanna, who rented an apartment outside Bangkok where the police say bomb-making materials were found, is currently in Turkey. She has said that she moved out of the apartment a year ago and left Thailand well before the Aug. 17 blast. She also said she would return to prove her innocence, but the police said Wednesday that they had contacted her and that she might be having second thoughts about coming back.

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