Turkey skeptical bomb suspects are Turks
Turkey has expressed scepticism that its nationals were involved in the bombing of a Bangkok shrine that killed 20 people, as Thai authorities reported finding a “suspicious fluid” during a raid at a third home linked to suspects.
National police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri said police found items including a “suspicious fluid in a barrel” during the raid on Thursday at a home in the outskirts of Bangkok.
He said the items were being examined by a police explosives unit.
Thai authorities have suggested at least two of the eight suspects are possibly Turkish, prompting the Turkish embassy in Bangkok to issue a statement saying it has not received confirmation from Thai authorities about the nationalities of the suspects.
The Turkish connection has boosted a theory that the suspects may be part of a group seeking to avenge Thailand’s forced repatriation of more than 100 ethnic Uighurs to China in July.
Thailand is believed to be a transit stop for Chinese Uighurs attempting to go to Turkey.
Uighurs are related to Turks, and Turkey is home to a large Uighur community.
The bombed site, the Erawan Shrine, is especially popular with Chinese tourists, feeding the speculation that it could have been targeted by people who believe the Uighurs are oppressed by China’s government.
China has alleged that the repatriated Uighurs included some who intended to join Islamic State fighters in Syria.
In another finding that could support a link to Uighurs, police said on Thursday that a man arrested on Tuesday who is considered a main suspect in the bombing was carrying a Chinese passport.
The passport indicated he was from the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, but Thai authorities had not yet verified its authenticity, said national police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri.
Xinjiang is the home of the Turkish-speaking Uighurs.
Authorities on Thursday identified the suspect but issued two different spellings of his name – Mieraili Yusufu and Yusufu Meerailee – and said he faces charges of possessing unauthorised explosives.
Police said they found his fingerprints on a bottle of bomb-making material recovered from an apartment that was raided over the weekend.
The other suspects include a Thai woman identified as Wanna Suansan said to be married to a Turkish man. Both are being sought by Thai police.
The home police raided Thursday was leased by Wanna, the police spokesman said.