2015 Bangkok bombing

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Coordinates: 13°44′40″N 100°32′26″E / 13.74444°N 100.54056°E / 13.74444; 100.54056

2015 Bangkok bombing
2015 Bangkok bombing VOA.jpg
Erawan Shrine after the explosion
2015 Bangkok bombing is located in Bangkok
2015 Bangkok bombing
2015 Bangkok bombing (Bangkok)
Location Ratchaprasong intersection, Bangkok, Thailand
Date 17 August 2015 (2015-08-17)
18:55 ICT (UTC+07:00)
Attack type
Mass murder, bombing
Weapon TNT
Deaths 20[1]
Non-fatal injuries
125[1]
Victims Thai nationals, foreign tourists
Suspected perpetrators
Adem Karadag and Grey Wolves

On 17 August 2015, a bombing took place inside the Erawan Shrine at the Ratchaprasong intersection in Pathum Wan District, Bangkok, Thailand,[2][3] killing 20 people and injuring 125.[1] Thai police were reported to have arrested two suspects, the second of whom confessed to having been the bomber. He later retracted his confession.

Prior incidents[edit]

Prior to this bombing incident, there were two other bombings in Thailand in the same year. In February 2015, two bombs exploded on the Siam BTS Station outside the nearby Siam Paragon shopping mall, injuring three people. The attack was believed to have been politically motivated.[4] In April 2015, a car bomb exploded in Ko Samui, injuring seven.[5]

Attack[edit]

On 17 August 2015, at 18:55 ICT (11:55 UTC), a bomb exploded inside the grounds of the Erawan Shrine, near the busy Ratchaprasong Intersection in Bangkok's city centre.[6][7][8] The Royal Thai Police said that 3 kilograms (6.6 lb) of TNT had been stuffed in a pipe and left under a bench near the outer rim of the grounds surrounding the shrine, and that an electronic circuit suspected to have been used in the attack was found 30 metres (98 ft) from the scene.[2][not in citation given] Surveillance footage showed a suspect leaving a backpack at the scene shortly before the explosion.[9]

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.[10] The attacks are thought to have targeted Thailand's tourism and economy,[2] but there has been a range of inconsistencies in the statements of Thai authorities about those arrested and the reasons for the attack. The Thai government has at times suggested the bombers acted to avenge a crackdown on their human trafficking network, to take revenge for Thailand's deportation of a group of Uighurs back to China in July 2015, to strike a blow for the insurgents fighting the Thai government in the deep south, or for reasons related to Thailand's domestic politics. The government has implicated a range of other suspects in the bombing, mostly Thai opponents of the military regime.[11]

The site of the bombing had been cleaned, and the crater paved over with cement, by 19 August.[12]

Second incident[edit]

In a separate attack in Bangkok, an explosive device was thrown from a bridge near a boat pier shortly after 13:00 ICT on 18 August 2015, but it caused no injuries. The device, possibly a grenade, appeared to have been thrown at the busy Sathon pier in Bangkok but landed in water where it exploded. The district's deputy police chief said, "If it did not fall in the water then it certainly would have caused injuries." Some damage was done to the bridge.[2]

Victims[edit]

Deaths by nationality[13]
Nation Deaths
 Thailand 6
 Malaysia 5
 China 5
 Hong Kong[a] 2
 Indonesia 1
 Singapore 1
Total 20
Some victims had multiple citizenships.

Most of the victims of the explosion were tourists visiting the shrine.[14] The Royal Thai Police reported that 20 people died and 125 had been injured.[1]

The dead included six Thais,[13] five Malaysians,[15] five mainland Chinese,[16] two from Hong Kong (including one British national resident in Hong Kong),[14] one Indonesian, and one Singaporean.[13] In addition, citizens of Japan, Malaysia, the Maldives, Oman, the Philippines, Qatar and Taiwan were among those injured.[14]

All of the 14 non-Thai fatalities, from Malaysia,[17] China, Hong Kong,[18] Indonesia[19] and Singapore[20] were ethnic Chinese.

Reward[edit]

Police offered a one million baht reward for information leading to the arrest of the bomber.[21][22][23] On 20 August this was increased to two million baht by an anonymous Thai businessman,[24] and later to three million baht (US$84,000). A further two million baht (US$56,000) was offered by a prominent member of the Red Shirt movement and another two million by the son of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, as well as five million baht (US$140,000) for "those officials who investigate and make arrests".[25][26] On 31 August, national police chief Somyot Poompanmoung awarded the three million baht to members of the police whose work led to the arrest of a suspect in the bombings.[27][28] This suspect later confessed to being the individual seen on CCTV in the first bombing. One million baht came from police chief Somyot and the rest came from his friends.[28] At the end of September 2015, police awarded themselves a second reward, essentially for making substantial progress in the investigation.[11]

Investigation[edit]

Investigators said they were "certain" that a man shown leaving a backpack at the scene of the explosion was responsible for the blast. The security camera footage, which has been broadcast internationally, shows the man in shorts and a yellow T-shirt taking off a dark-coloured backpack while sitting on a bench and then standing up, putting the backpack underneath the bench and walking away while looking at his phone.[29] The suspect likely had arrived by tuk-tuk from an alley near Hua Lamphong.[30]

Some newspapers alleged that the man captured on security footage at the Erawan Shrine bomb attack was named by authorities as Mohamad Museyin, and that investigators are focusing their efforts on budget hotels in the Sathorn Road area of Bangkok where they believe the suspect stayed.[31] However, this information was quickly dismissed by Thai authorities.[32]

Thailand's chief of police said the attack was carried out by a network and released a sketch of the "unidentified foreign man" who was identified in CCTV footage as being the bomber. A warrant was issued for his arrest the same day the reward was announced.[23] Police are also saying that two other people, wearing red and white T-shirts, seen in the same footage were being treated as suspects.[29][33] These two suspected accomplices were later identified and cleared by police.[33][34] Police said that the bombing was not international terrorism, but said that it involved several teams and at least 10 people.[24] Military junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha warned against speculating about the reason for the bombing too soon as, "It could affect international affairs".[35]

A taxi driver later confirmed that he picked up the suspect, and described him as "not in a hurry. He seemed to be calm, like a regular customer, and not Thai. He also spoke in an unclear language on the way."[36]

Video from shortly after the first bombing showed someone in a blue shirt kicking an item into the canal where the second explosion occurred the next day.[37] On 27 August, an arrest warrant was issued for this unnamed individual.[38]

On 29 August 2015, police arrested a 28-year-old man in connection to the bombing. He is not believed to have been the bomber but is suspected of involvement.[39] His nationality was unknown but he had a fake Turkish passport, as well as at least 11 other Turkish passports and over 200 passports in all in his apartment, along with bomb-making components.[35][40][41] The Turkish embassy in Bangkok denied that the bomb suspect arrested by Thai police and troops on Saturday is a citizen of Turkey.[42] A second foreigner was detained near the Cambodian border on 1 September, and authorities planned to conduct DNA tests using DNA found on taxis the bomber used.[35]

On 30 August, authorities raided an apartment building in Bangkok, initially telling reporters nothing suspicious had been found. However, on 31 August the authorities announced in a special broadcast that more bomb-making materials had been found and issued arrest warrants for 26-year-old Wanna Suansan, who is living in Turkey, and a foreign male named Jusuf.[43][44][45] A photo of a suicide vest was displayed but authorities denied it was connected to the bombing.

The bombing is suspected[by whom?] to have been carried out by the Pan-Turkic Turkish ultra-nationalist organization Grey Wolves in retaliation for Thailand's deportation of Uyghur terrorist suspects back to China instead of allowing them to travel to Turkey for asylum. A Chinese ethnic Uighur man, Adem Karadag, was arrested by the Thai police in connection with the bombing after fake Turkish passports[46] and bomb-making materials were found in his apartment.[47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55][56][57]

The arrested suspect confessed to Thai authorities that he came from Turkey and travelled to Vietnam on a fake passport, and then travelled through Laos and Cambodia, paying bribes to Thai border police in Sa Kaeo to cross the border from Cambodia. He is believed to have provided Uyghurs with fake passports to go to Turkey.[58]

Adem Karadag, 31, was identified as the bomber on 26 September while being held in police custody, based on his own confession as well as other evidence.[59]

In February 2016, Adem Karadag, also known as Bilal Mohammed, retracted his earlier confession that his lawyer said was a result of torture.[60] His co-defendant, Mieraili Yusufu, 26, also denied the charges. The Military Court has set April 20–22, 2016 for the inspection of evidence.[60]

Reactions[edit]

Thai military junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha called it the "worst-ever attack" on his country, saying, "there have been minor bombs or just noise, but this time they aim for innocent lives. They want to destroy our economy, our tourism."[2]

The foreign ministry announced that mostly Western countries issued travel warnings. Twelve countries—Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United States—issued "Level 2" advisories urging citizens to take extra care during trips to the country. Nine others—Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Ireland, New Zealand, Russia, and the United Kingdom—recommended a higher degree of caution, or "Level 3" warnings. China's Hong Kong advised its people to avoid non-essential travel to Thailand, or "Level 4" warning. The Netherlands instructed its people to be alert, or a "Level 1 warning."[61][62]

Effect on economy[edit]

Malaysia Airlines reported that there were no flight cancellations to Bangkok.[63] After Hong Kong raised its travel advisory for Bangkok to "red alert", which prevented the purchase of compulsory travel insurance, the number of tourists from major Asian markets dropped by 10%.[64] Hong Kong downgraded its travel advisory to amber on 22 September.[65]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Includes one British national resident in Hong Kong[14]

References[edit]

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