Suspect arrested in Bangkok bombing case


A team of over 100 officers from the Royal Thai Police arrested a suspect last week that they are convinced played a part in the bombing at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok two weeks ago that killed 20 people and wounded over 100 others, in what appears to be a major breakthrough in the case.

The arrest has bolstered the credibility of the Thai police, who have been strongly criticized by some for failing to quickly solve the case of the August 17 bombing in central Bangkok that took the lives of locals and foreign tourists. Although the incident has caused some foreign tourists to avoid Bangkok, representatives of the foreign business community, including the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand, said they will stand by the Kingdom and continue to invest and do business there.

The suspect, apparently of Middle Eastern origins, was not cooperating with police while being held in custody. Police believe his passport was forged and so have not yet been able to verify his identity or nationality. Among items found by police in the suspect’s rented rooms in a Muslim-dominated section of the capital, were materials they said could be used to make bombs and a stack of forged passports.

Police do not believe the suspect is the bomber whose image was captured by a closed circuit television camera at the Erawan Shrine. They believe it is possible the bomber himself may have already fled the country. The suspect is believed to have delivered the explosive device to the bomber.

The deadly incident has caused a slight drop in tourism, an important engine of the Thai economy, but tourism industry experts expect the sector and the country are resilient enough to quickly recover. Several Chinese tourists perished in the blast, but there has not been a wholesale cancellation by visitors from that country. Many have simply chosen to travel to other popular destinations in the Kingdom such as Chiang Mai and Phuket.

Thailand’s resilience was also in evidence in the results of the latest annual ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Business Outlook Survey of American business executives, released last week by the American Chambers of Commerce in the region.

Executives at U.S. firms in Thailand who responded to the survey found that, in terms of business expansion, 57 percent reported that their companies plan to expand in the Kingdom, while half expect their workforce to increase in 2016 despite the current economic slowdown.



Thailand Focus August 31st, 2015

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