An unidentified young foreigner taken into custody at the Thai-Cambodian border today strongly resembles the man in the yellow shirt suspected of planting a bomb hidden in a backpack at the Erawan shrine minutes before the deadly detonation.
While police would not confirm yet whether the arrested man is the bomber, a police spokesman described him an “important figure” and “definitely part of the network” behind the deadly blast at the Erawan shrine.
There are conflicting reports regarding whether the suspect was arrested in Cambodia or in Thailand. The Bangkok Post reports:
A ranking source in the police investigative team [said] the suspect had been apprehended inside Cambodia Monday and brought today to the Cambodian border town of Poipet (…), opposite Sa Kaeo’s Aranyaprathet district, to be handed over for arrest by Thai authorities.
The source, declining to specify where in Cambodia he was captured, said the suspect had been on his way to Phnom Penh.
He underwent preliminary questioning at a military camp in Aranyaprathet before being flown by helicopter to Bangkok today at 4pm.
According to Khaosod English, “anonymous sources” have gone as far as claiming he was detained at Phnom Penh International Airport and obviously on his way to an unspecified third country before he was “quietly handed over to Thailand due to possible political sensitivities.”
A Thai police spokesman however insisted that the suspect had been arrested on the Thai side of the border at around 12 p.m. on Tuesday as he was “trying to sneak into Cambodia via a natural border.”
The Nation reports that he was carrying a “black backpack, in which he was found to be carrying clothes similar to the ones the suspected bomber was seen wearing on the day of the attack.”
Police also denied media reports that the suspect had been identified as a Chinese passport holder. Thai media today widely published a photo of a Chinese passport for a man matching the suspect’s description and named as Yusufu Mieraili, 25, from Xinjiang province. Xinjiang is the home province of China’s Uighur Muslim minority that had been suspected of involvement in the attacks.
The suspect was flown to Bangkok by helicopter at 4 p.m. Tuesday and is being interrogated at a military facility. A police spokesman said he is “communicating in English but did not confirm his nationality or name.”
Police are now awaiting DNA and other forensic test results and plan to bring in witnesses that have seen the man in the yellow shirt on the day of the shrine bombing.
Meanwhile, arrest warrants have been issued for three more male suspects believed to be Turkish nationals. Two of the men have been identified as Ali Jolan and Ahmet Bozoglan.
The three suspects were found to have stayed at the same apartment building in Bangkok’s Nong Chok district as the first suspect arrested on Saturday. They are charged with illegal possession of explosives.