Saturday, 26 September 2015

Marksmen Guard Suspects In Bomb Reconstruction

Heavily-armed police have accompanied two suspects in a reconstruction at the site of a bomb attack that left 20 dead and 120 injured in Bangkok. Adem Karadag and Yusufu Mierili wore bulletproof vests and were flanked by officers with automatic weapons as they were paraded at the Erawan Shrine on Saturday. They were also led to a nearby shopping mall as part of the police re-enactment. Officers say they have gathered enough evidence to charge the pair with the blast that killed 14 tourists on 17 August. They allegedly have CCTV footage of them, as well as witness statements and DNA evidence linking them to the scene.
Police say Karadag, also known as Bilal Mohammed, was the yellow-shirted man seen in security footage placing a backpack at the shrine moments before the blast. Karadag wore a yellow shirt and sat on a bench next to where the backpack was left during the re-enactment. Mierili, who allegedly used a mobile phone to detonate the bomb, went through his re-enactment at a nearby shopping mall. Authorities had earlier claimed it was unlikely either of the men carried out the bombing.
Karadag has denied any involvement in the attack, according to his lawyer Chuchart Kanphai. "The appearance of the yellow shirt man (in the CCTV footage) and Adem do not match. I do not believe Adem would confess," he said. However, National Police Chief Somyot Poomphanmuang said the two men - who are believed to be from Turkey - have both confessed to the crime. The motive was a revenge attack by a people smuggling gang after Thai authorities broke up their network, he claimed.
Karadag was arrested at an apartment in the Nongjok district of the Thai capital on 29 August. Police allegedly found bomb-making materials and fake passports there. Mierili was later arrested near the Cambodian border. Detectives say the pair were part of a criminal network, and did not have political motives. But there has been speculation the blast might have been ordered to punish Thailand for forcibly repatriating more than 100 Uighurs to China in July.

Turkey has a large Uighur community. Thousands have fled China saying they face persecution, and it is believed some are allied with international jihadist groups. A military court has issued arrest warrants for 17 others wanted over the bomb attack. Some of the suspects are carrying Thai, Chinese, Turkish and Pakistani passports, police say.

HENRY E. J Williams

Author & Editor

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