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Thai police hunt for blast suspect

21 August 2015

REUTERS

Reopened: the Erawan shrine in Bangkok, after the debris from Monday’s blast was cleared

Reopened: the Erawan shrine in Bangkok, after the debris from Monday’s blast was cleared

POLICE in Thailand are looking for a man who was seen on CCTV leaving a backpack at a shrine in Bangkok, minutes before the shrine was hit by an explosion.

The bombing on Monday killed at least 20 people, and injured 120 more, at the Erawan Hindu shrine in the capital of Thailand — a spot popular with tourists as well as Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims. The Foreign Office has confirmed that one of the dead is a British woman who lived in Hong Kong.

A government spokesman told the BBC that the police were close to identifying the man seen on the CCTV footage, that the man did not appear to be a Thai, and that the bombing did not seem similar to previous attacks by separatist terrorist groups. A detailed sketch of a suspect’s face has been released.

Security at railway stations, airports, and tourist hotspots has been increased. The Vicar of Christ Church, Bangkok, the Revd Tim Eady, said that the shrine was the heart of the city, and a place where many tourists went to get their first experience of Hindu and Buddhist worship.

Writing from China, where he is on holiday, Mr Eady said: “Bangkok is generally a very safe place to live — a city of ten million; so things happen here, as they do anywhere in the world, but this central location is a kind of equivalent to a bomb blast in Regent Street.”

Despite a military coup that led to a junta’s seizing power last year, Mr Eady said that he had always felt safe in his adopted city. “Generally, it is a thoroughly safe and tolerant city. This bombing is the last thing that Bangkok needs at the moment. I feel that I ought to be there.”

A second explosion, at a riverside pier in Bangkok on Tuesday, did not cause any injuries. It is not yet known if it is connected to Monday’s attack. Thai police have described the device that was detonated at the shrine as a homemade pipe-bomb containing three kilogrammes of TNT.

The Church of England Communications Office released a prayer for peace online after news of the blast: “Compassionate God . . . hold back the hands that kill and maim; turn around the hearts that hate. Grant instead your strong Spirit of Peace . . .”

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