Temple blast: Thai authorities launch hunt for male 'suspect'

Last Updated 18 August 2015, 05:05 IST

Thai authorities today launched a hunt for a male "suspect" who may have left a bomb inside the hugely popular Lord Brahma temple in a crowded area in central Bangkok that killed at least 20 people and injured 123 others.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha said there is a male suspect who appeared on CCTV near the scene of the blast. "We are looking for this guy," he said.

He called an urgent war room meeting with Cabinet members and security agencies at Government House.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said that the perpetrators had used few people to commit the incident. He said the motive behind the blast has yet to be concluded.

Thai Army chief Gen Udomdej Seetabutr told local media that security officials had obtained video footages at the bomb explosion scene which clearly showed a suspect carrying a bag into the scene before it went off.

He did not elaborate the nationality of the suspect but said the bomb attack might be a retaliation to the recent operation of the Thai government. He said security officials are following the case closely.

He had earlier said the tactics used in the blast did not match the Muslim separatist rebels in the country's south.

However, Nation newspaper said police were looking for a suspect with an "Arab" look who was seen leaving a bag at the shrine shortly before the blast occurred at 7 pm last evening.

The man was seen on a security camera sitting on a bench in the compound of the shrine after leaving his bag behind the bench, the paper said.

After a while, he was seen standing and making a call from his phone and walking fast from the area, it said.

Thailand's baht currency slumped to a more than six-year low and shares fell in Bangkok after the blast.

The blast, which the government believed was aimed at damaging economy and tourism, occurred inside Erawan Shrine dedicated to Lord Brahma in the downtown Chidlom district.

The temple is located on a main road through Bangkok's commercial hub and is surrounded by three major shopping malls and big hotels of international chains. It is among Bangkok's most popular tourist attractions visited by East Asian tourists and local Buddhists.

Authorities today put the death toll at 20, revising an earlier toll of 27. The dead includes two Malaysians, two Taiwanese, two Singaporeans, a Hongkongnese, and the rest Thais. Most of the injured foreigners are Chinese.

However, there were no reports of any Indian casualties or injury in the blast, the first such attack in the Thai capital.

(Published 18 August 2015, 05:05 IST)

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