Two Thai bomb ‘suspects’ deny link, international terrorism ‘unlikely’

admin   •   August 21, 2015   •   2396

Still image from closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage released by Thai police shows what they believe to be two new suspects - dressed in red (C) and dressed in white (3rd R) - standing in front of previously identified supect in yellow t-shirt removing his backpack prior to a bomb blast in Bangkok, made available August 19, 2015. REUTERS/Thai Police Handout via Reuters Tv

Still image from closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage released by Thai police shows what they believe to be two new suspects – dressed in red (C) and dressed in white (3rd R) – standing in front of previously identified supect in yellow t-shirt removing his backpack prior to a bomb blast in Bangkok, made available August 19, 2015. REUTERS/Thai Police Handout via Reuters Tv

A bomb attack in Bangkok in which 20 people were killed was likely planned weeks in advance by a group of 10 people, Thai authorities said on Thursday.

But they appeared to rule out an international terrorist group and said Chinese people were not believed to have been targeted.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast, Thailand’s worst bombing, on Monday evening at a popular Hindu shrine crowded with tourists. The government has said the attack was designed to wreck an economy that relies heavily on tourism.

The elimination of foreign militant involvement would feed speculation that either Muslim separatists waging a low-intensity insurgency in southern Thailand, or domestic political activists, were involved.

National police chief Somyot Pumpanmuang said the investigation showed the attack was planned at least a month in advance by a network of least 10 people. “This includes those who looked out on the streets, prepared the bomb and those at the site and … those who knew the escape route,” he told reporters

“There must have been at least 10 people involved,” Somyot said, adding nothing was being ruled out.

Police are focusing their hunt on an unidentified young man seen on grainy security camera footage, apparently planting a backpack bomb at the shrine, and have appealed to Interpol for help in finding this suspect.

They have also questioned the driver of a three-wheel “tuk-tuk” taxi who drove the suspect to the shrine. Two other men seen in the CCTV footage who police had suspected were accomplices have denied involvement.

Colonel Winthai Suvaree, a spokesman for Thailand’s ruling junta, said security agencies working with counterparts from allied countries had reached a preliminary conclusion that foreign militants were probably not responsible.

“The incident is unlikely to be linked to international terrorism,” Winthai said.

The city-center Erawan shrine is particularly popular with tourists from China and other East Asian countries, and 14 foreigners were among the dead, seven from mainland China and Hong Kong. China is an important ally and trade partner for Thailand and the biggest source of foreign tourists.

Winthai said Chinese tourists were not believed to have been the target.


A day after police said the main suspect, dressed in a yellow shirt and shorts, with dark hair and a wispy beard, was believed to be European or Middle Eastern, they noted he might have been a Thai man pretending to be foreign.

They later said the tuk-tuk driver had not been able to communicate with the man, except to agree a fare. The man had shown the driver a photograph of the shrine to indicate where he wanted to go.

Police declined to say where the man had hailed the tuk-tuk and appealed for anyone taking photographs at the scene before the blast to submit their pictures.

One of the two suspected accomplices, spotted at the shrine on CCTV, had come forward to say he was a Thai tour guide, and the other was a tourist from China who had flown home, police said. Police spokesman Prawut Thawornsiri declined to say if the two had been cleared, pending a check on their documents.

The blast comes at a sensitive time for Thailand, which has been riven for a decade by a sometimes-violent struggle for power between political factions in Bangkok.

A parliament picked by the junta that seized power in 2014 is due to vote on a draft constitution next month that critics say is undemocratic. The government has promised to restore democracy next year.

The government is also dealing with flagging growth and appointed a new finance minister and a deputy premier to oversee the economy.

The Erawan shrine has reopened, with visitors leaving messages, flowers and candles.

(Additional reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak and Panarat Thepgumpana; Editing by Robert Birsel, Dean Yates and Ian Geoghegan)

PH Embassy, ready to assist in repatriation of Filipinos amid Delta variant surge in Thailand

Marje Pelayo   •   July 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Ambassador Millicent Cruz-Paredes assured that Filipinos in Thailand are coping with the fresh surge of COVID-19 cases there.

During the Laging Handa Press Briefing on Friday (July 16), Paredes said the Embassy is ready to assist Filipinos in returning to the Philippines in case a travel ban is imposed against their host country.

“Nakahanda na po kami kung anoman ang magiging challenges and again ang magiging resulta nito. Alam na po ng ating Filipino community dito, gayundin ng mga airlines [dahil’ sila din ang nagmomonitor ng flow of passengers,” she said.

Meanwhile, Paredes said there were 30 Filipinos who have contracted COVID-19 in Thailand.

Of the said number, 27 already recovered, two were active cases and one succumbed to the disease just this month.

The envoy said the Embassy is already coordinating with the victim’s family.

Paredes explained that, at present, the country specifically its capital Bangkok is experiencing a third wave of infection.

“Ang pangatlong wave, it happened around March this year. Iyon po ay nakitaan ng pagpasok na ng mga variants. Nagsimula po ‘yan sa 2 high-end bars dito sa Bangkok,” she said.

“Dito po sa Bangkok, nakikitaan nila na ang around 69% [ng cases] ay Delta variant na,” she added.

Currently, Paredes said the Thai government is looking into possible cross-vaccination using available brands like AstraZeneca and Pfizer.

“Thailand PM Prayut Chan-o-cha already said na hindi siya hahadlang at mag-o-object sa mga proposals na magkaroon ng cross vaccination that would involve AstraZeneca, Pfizer,” Paredes said.

Suspect arrested in robbery, gruesome death of toddler in Thailand

UNTV News   •   January 22, 2020

Thai police officers conduct an investigation next to the body of a victim at a crime scene after a robbery inside a department store in Lopburi province, Thailand, 09 January 2020 (issued 10 January 2020). EPA-EFE FILE/STR

By Lobsang DS Subirana

Bangkok –
Police said Wednesday they had arrested a man they suspect killed three people, among them a toddler, and injured another four during the robbery of a jewelry shop in a central province in Thailand.

Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda, a commissioner-general of the Royal Thai Police, confirmed the arrest of Prasittichai Khaokaew, a 39-year-old school director, who he said was linked to the gruesome incident at a Lopburi province shopping center earlier this month, footage of which went viral.

“The alleged offender has been questioned about his motives but details cannot be revealed at the moment since we have not finished the investigation process yet,” Chakthip said during a media briefing.

Prasittichai was arrested Wednesday morning after the criminal court issued an arrest warrant Tuesday evening.

Police did not reveal further details and said another press conference would be held at 10.30 am on Thursday at the Royal Thai Police Headquarters in the capital Bangkok, adding they would address the motives and official charges against the suspect.

“The alleged offender did not deny any of the charges,” the commissioner-general said. “He thought he wouldn’t be able to get away with it.”

Chakthip also said Prasittichai did not resist arrest and that he “accepted his own mistakes.”

Prasittichai teaches at Wat Phochai School, a primary school located in Singburi, a neighboring province of Lopburi. Local media said he was originally from Lopburi, but police did not confirm this.

Security camera footage from Jan. 10 shows how a man wearing a balaclava shoots at customers and staff while approaching the counter. He then gets on the counter and proceeds to walk up and down, before rummaging through valuables and making off with a handful of jewelry.

Police said the man, who was wielding a gun with a silencer, first shot at a security guard before proceeding with his rampage.

A separate video shows how a child walking by falls to the ground after sustaining a wound to the head before his mother takes him away to find cover. Authorities said the boy died at the hospital.

Out of the more than 10 million firearms in Thailand, only 6 million are legally registered, according to Australian monitoring organization EFE-EPA


Bangkok schools shut as Thai PM blames public for toxic smog

UNTV News   •   January 22, 2020

A Thai Buddhist monk wears a face mask to guard against poor air quality during morning alms in Bangkok, Thailand, 16 January 2020. EFE-EPA/NARONG SANGNAK

By Lobsang DS Subirana

Bangkok – Hundreds of schools closed Wednesday in Thailand’s capital after an order from authorities, following air pollution levels in the city that have exceeded hazardous levels for weeks and have even seen the prime minister blame the public for the issue.

The persistence of toxic smog that blankets Bangkok led the city’s metropolitan administration to order 437 schools closed, a recurrent annual event in a city that has suffered from the authorities’ inaction to tackle this major public health concern.

“In Bangkok, 437 schools will be closed for one day starting [Wednesday] to avoid the danger of harmful particles exceeding healthy standards and to help reduce the number of cars on the road that have to pick up and drop off students during rush hour,” Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang wrote Tuesday in a statement posted to his Facebook page.

The city’s levels of PM2.5 particles, the finest and most harmful kind, have regularly exceeded its own 50-microgram per cubic meter “safe” threshold – set at double that of the World Health Organization’s at 25 micrograms per cubic meter – in the first weeks of the year.

Monitoring agency Air Visual counted 10 days of the last two weeks in which the air quality exceeded local thresholds – and WHO thresholds on all 14 days, including a Monday high of 79 micrograms per cubic meter.

On all those days, Bangkok consistently ranked among the world’s top 10 most polluted cities, registering an “Unhealthy” Air Quality Index (AQI) value above 151 on at least half of them, in some cases entering the 201 threshold of “Very Unhealthy.”

To tackle these problems, Aswin said he had ordered 68 health centers and 50 district offices to provide masks for the general public and encourage that they be worn while performing outdoor activities.

Outdoor activities are what monitoring agencies least recommend when air pollution levels exceed 151 on the AQI, with Air Visual insisting people are likely to experience an “increased likelihood of adverse effects and aggravation to the heart and lungs among general public.”

Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha proceeded to blame the public for the situation following a Tuesday cabinet meeting in Narathiwat province.

“The public is responsible and a culprit in the PM2.5 problem,” Prayuth told the media, but added that he was willing to take measures to attempt to tackle the matter. “The government will consider all directives and actions, such as banning private vehicles and encourage people to use only public transportation.” EFE-EPA



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