Bangkok Shrine Bomb Suspect Has Fled to Turkey, Say Police

The attack in August at a Hindu shrine killed 20 people, including 14 foreign tourists. There has since been speculation it was a revenge attack by sympathizers of Uighur Muslims, a minority in China.
September 14, 2015, 2:09pm
Abudusataer Abudureheman, a Chinese national suspected by Thai police of plotting the Bangkok bomb attack. Photo via EPA

One of the suspects in the investigation into Bangkok shrine bomb attack last month has traveled to Turkey, Thai police said on Monday.

No group has claimed responsibility for the August 17 attack at a Hindu shrine in Bangkok, which killed 20 people, including 14 foreign tourists, among them seven from Hong Kong and mainland China.

Thai police have ruled out international militants as responsible for the attack but have not said why nor what they believe the motive was.

They have named Abudusataer Abudureheman, a Chinese national from the Xinjiang region, as the man they believe organized the plot. He allegedly fled on the eve of the blast, spending two weeks in Bangladesh before flying out of Dhaka on August 30. He had stated in an exit document that his final destination was Beijing, via New Delhi, police said.

Thailand's police spokesman Prawut Thawornsiri said that the latest information obtained by officers had led them to believe the man is now in Turkey.

"Mr. Abudusataer left Dhaka (Bangladesh) on 30th of August for Delhi (India) on Jet Airways, and from Delhi he traveled on to Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), and from Abu Dhabi he went to Istanbul on the 31st of August," Prawut told reporters on Monday.

Related: Thai Police Say Bombing Suspect Had More Than 200 Forged Passports

The investigation expanded to Malaysia earlier this month. Two Malaysians and a Pakistani national have been arrested.

The probe gained momentum with information from one of two detained suspects, who was arrested with a Chinese passport bearing the name Yusufu Mieraili.

He admitted giving a bag containing the device to a man with a yellow shirt and said another man, Abudusataer, alias Izan, had given orders to the plotters. The man with the yellow shirt was later filmed by a security camera placing the bag near the Erawan Shrine, reported the Associated Press.

Thai visas were issued in Kuala Lumpur to both Yusufu and Abudusataer, according to a diplomatic source, using Chinese passports with names Abu Dustar Abdulrahman and Yusufu Mieraili, in October 2014 and February 2015 respectively.

The use of Chinese passports, at least one of which stated Xinjiang as a birthplace, adds fuel to speculation the bombing may have been revenge by sympathizers of Turkic-speaking Uighur Muslims. Uighurs are from the Xinjiang region.

Thailand was widely condemned in July for forcibly repatriating 109 Uighurs to China, where they say they are persecuted, an accusation Beijing rejects. International human rights groups have documented the severe religious repression and discrimination that Uighurs face in Xinjiang province.

On Sunday, Thai police issued a photograph of Abudusataer and called him a member of the Uighur ethnic group, reported the Guardian — but they later asked media to withdraw the description and said he was not the group leader.

Related: China Claims 109 Uighur Refugees Deported From Thailand Planned 'To Join Jihad'