Thai police say detained man is indeed Bangkok bomber
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Thai police said on Saturday a man they are holding in custody is the bomber behind a deadly attack in Bangkok last month, the latest twist in an investigation marred by contradictory statements.
Police spokesman Prawut Thawornsiri said a man arrested with bomb materials on Aug. 29, who has been referred to both as Bilal Mohammed and Adem Karadag, the name on a Turkish passport he holds, was responsible for the bombing.
The blast killed 20 people including 14 foreigners, making it the deadliest such incident in Thai history.
"From evidence police showed him, he accepted the crime," Prawut told reporters.
A military court on Friday issued arrest warrants for 17 people over a range of charges in connection to the bombing, including Bilal Mohammed and others carrying Thai, Chinese, Turkish and Pakistani passports. Prawut said the authenticity of the passports has yet to be confirmed, however.
The investigation has focused on a man in a yellow shirt caught on security camera footage leaving a backpack at the shrine.
"The sixteenth arrest warrant is for Bilal Mohammed who is the man in yellow who placed the rucksack at the Erawan Shrine," Prawut said. "All the information we have leads back to him. The new (security footage) images we have are him."
The latest statement by Thai police, however, comes days after Malaysian police said they had arrested eight people, some of whom they suspect of being part of a human trafficking network, who may have helped the bomber flee across southern Thailand's border with Malaysia.
Thai police have also arrested a man with a Chinese passport giving his name as Yusufu Mieraili, born in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, home to Turkic-speaking Uighur Muslims.
Four of the eight arrested in Malaysia are also believed to be minority Uighur Muslims.
Despite some links in the probe to Uighur Muslims, Thai police have ruled out the idea that the attack was carried out by sympathisers of the minority. Thailand forcibly repatriated 109 Uighurs to China in July. Thousands of Uighurs have fled China saying they face persecution, which Beijing rejects.
Karadag and Mieraili will take part in a police reconstruction of the Bangkok bomb blast on Saturday, Prawut said.