Thai police urge patience as lack of equipment hampers blast probe

By Aidan Jones ,AFP

BANGKOK — Authorities Sunday urged patience in their hunt for the Bangkok shrine bomber, as the police chief admitted Thailand lacks some of the “modern equipment” to find the prime suspect captured on security cameras. Anxiety is mounting six days after the attack, which killed 20 people in the capital’s commercial heart, with the bomber still on the run. The hunt has so far focused on a suspect in a yellow T-shirt seen on CCTV placing a rucksack under a bench at the Erawan shrine minutes before the blast. A sketch of the man has been widely circulated and a bounty of more than US$300,000 has been offered for his arrest.

He is described on his arrest warrant as “foreign” but police have since said he could in fact be Thai or of mixed race. Unverified footage, time-stamped just a few minutes after Monday’s blast, shows a second man in a blue T-shirt kicking a package into water near a bridge in the same spot where a device exploded on Tuesday without injuries. But police have not publicly linked the two blasts despite pressure to reveal more. “The slowness of the investigation is not because the police lack capacity,” national police chief Somyot Poompanmoungyot told reporters. “But it’s because we don’t have the modern equipment that supports the work.” He did not reveal the equipment the police need but it is likely to be facial recognition technology or programs to enhance security camera footage. Earlier in the week junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha bristled at suggestions his government should seek overseas help in a complicated inquiry, with several nations offering their expertise. It is not clear if any offers have since been officially accepted.