Asia

Bangkok's Erawan Shrine bomb: Main suspect 'still free'

This Aug. 17, 2015, image, released by Royal Thai Police spokesman Lt. Gen. Prawut Thavornsiri shows a man wearing a yellow T-shirt near the Erawan Shrine before an explosion occurred in Bangkok, Thailand. Image copyright Thai Police HO via AP
Image caption Police say that a young man seen on CCTV footage leaving a backpack near the shrine is likely still to be on the run

Thai police investigating the deadly Erawan Shrine bombing in Bangkok last month say that neither of the two men detained in connection with the blast are believed to be the main suspect.

This suggests that the key suspect - a man wearing a yellow t-shirt who left a rucksack at the shrine moments before the blast - is still on the run.

No-one has laid claim to the attack, which killed 20 people.

Artists have meanwhile repaired damage to the statue caused by the blast.

Police say that the two foreign suspects - identified as Adem Karadag and Yusufu Mieraili - they have arrested are thought to be part of a group responsible for the 17 August blast, but do not appear to be the main protagonists.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A foreign man named by the authorities as Adem Karadag (centre) is being questioned by police

"Evidence has showed that Yusufu was probably not the yellow-shirt," national police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri told reporters in Bangkok.

He said that furthermore "nothing had confirmed" that Mr Karadag was the chief suspect. Both men have been charged with possessing "illegal bomb weapons", police say.

Police have yet to confirm the nationalities of the two arrested men because they suspect that both used fake identity documents.

Police on Saturday arrested Mr Karadag in a raid on a flat on the eastern outskirts of Bangkok. It was their first blast-related arrest and he has since been subjected to DNA tests.

The samples taken from him do not match the DNA found on evidence that the bomber is believed to have left behind on the night of the attack, police say.

Police say that seven other people are wanted over the crime.

Image copyright EPA,Reuters
Image caption Damaged statues have been repaired at Bangkok's Erawan Shrine
Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Thai Fine Arts department carried out the repairs
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Media captionThe statue was unveiled to the public in a special ceremony

Earlier on Friday repairs to the shrine were unveiled - its centrepiece being a four-faced golden statue of the Hindu god Brahma.

It was damaged in at least 12 places, most obviously the chin of one of the faces.

The shrine is also considered sacred by Thai Buddhists, and attracts many foreign visitors. The unveiling was attended by worshippers and Thai soldiers.

The repairs were carried out by the culture ministry's fine arts department.

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