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Thai Police Seek 2 New Blast Suspects  08/31 06:16

   BANGKOK (AP) -- Thai police issued arrest warrants Monday for two more 
suspects, a Thai woman and a foreign man of unknown nationality, and released 
their images in the widening investigation into Bangkok's deadly bombing two 
weeks ago that yielded its first arrest over the weekend.

   National police spokesman Prawuth Thavornsiri said he was certain the two 
were part of a group police say was responsible for the Aug. 17 blast at the 
Erawan Shrine in central Bangkok that killed 20 people, more than half of them 
foreigners.

   During a televised statement on Monday, Prawuth displayed a photograph of 
the woman's Thai identification card showing a young woman in a black headscarf 
and a sketch of the man. He later said police were asking for additional arrest 
warrants.

   The development came after police arrested a man from an apartment in 
Bangkok's outskirts on Saturday and seized bomb-making equipment that included 
detonators, ball bearings and a metal pipe believed to be a bomb casing.

   Thai police, meanwhile, awarded themselves a 3 million baht, or $84,000, 
reward Monday for tips leading to the arrest of bombing suspects.

   National police chief Somyot Poompanmoung said he was taking the unusual 
step of giving the reward to the police force both to motivate his officers and 
to show that Thailand's police are good at their job.

   "This money should be given to officials who did their job," he said at a 
news conference as aides brought out stacks of 1,000 baht notes. It wasn't 
immediately clear how the money would be distributed to police officers.

   More bomb-making materials were discovered in a second apartment during a 
raid Sunday in a nearby neighborhood, said Prawuth. He said the second 
apartment, in a neighborhood known as Min Buri, was rented by the Thai woman 
identified as 26-year-old Wanna Suansun. He said the woman has a house 
registration in the southern Thai province of Phang Nga, and is also known by 
the name Mai Saloh.

   Prawuth described what police found in the second apartment as "important 
bomb-making materials such as gunpowder, urea-based fertilizer which can be 
used as explosive powder when mixed with other substances, a remote-controlled 
car with its controller which can be used as a detonator, nuts and bolts, small 
light bulbs and digital watches," among other things.

   The arrest warrants for them say they are wanted on a charge of conspiracy 
to possess unauthorized war material, a reference to the gunpowder.

   The wanted man, whose face is shown in a police sketch with short brown hair 
and a light beard and mustache, is believed to have lived in the apartment, 
said Prawuth, adding that his nationality was not known. He told The Associated 
Press the man's name is Jusuf, but did not explain how he learned that or give 
a precise spelling.

   No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, sparking an array of 
theories about who might be behind it. Police have suggested that the suspects 
were part of a people-smuggling group who held a grudge against Thai 
authorities.

   Much remains unknown about the man arrested Saturday, including his 
nationality and his motive. On Sunday, Prawuth said police were working with "a 
number of embassies" and interpreters to try to establish the man's 
nationality, adding that he did not speak Thai but spoke some English.

   Speculation has grown that the suspect might be part of a group seeking to 
avenge Thailand's forced repatriation of ethnic Uighurs to China after images 
circulated online of a fake Turkish passport found in his apartment bearing his 
apparent picture.

   Uighurs are related to Turks, and Turkey is home to a large Uighur community.

   Authorities have dodged questions about whether the suspect is believed to 
be Turkish, saying that he was traveling on a fake passport.

   The Turkish Embassy in Bangkok could not immediately be reached for comment. 
A Turkish government spokesman contacted over the weekend in Istanbul said he 
had no information on the suspect or any possible Turkish link to the attack.

   Another possibility is that the perpetrators are Muslim separatists from 
southern Thailand, opponents of Thailand's military government and feuding 
factions within the security services.

   The blast at the Erawan Shrine was unprecedented in the Thai capital, where 
smaller bombs have been employed in domestic political violence over the past 
decade, but not in an effort to cause large-scale casualties.


(KA)


 
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