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Thai Police Say Bombing Suspects Confessed


Thai national police chief Somyot Pumpanmuang gestures during a news conference September 28, 2015 about the Bangkok blast as a screen shows the different looks of a suspect, who has been referred to both as Bilal Mohammed and Adem Karadag. (REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha)

Thai national police chief Somyot Pumpanmuang gestures during a news conference September 28, 2015 about the Bangkok blast as a screen shows the different looks of a suspect, who has been referred to both as Bilal Mohammed and Adem Karadag. (REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha)

Police in Thailand say they are confident they have the man responsible for a bombing that killed 20 people in Bangkok.

After the bombing, officials released unclear and contradictory statements about the suspects and the motive for the attack.

Critics are skeptical about the investigation.

Officials say they have identified the bomber and the network that helped him in the attack.

Officials identified Bilal Mohammed, also called Mohammad Bilaturk, as the suspect who placed a bomb August 17 at the Erawan Shrine. He was carrying a false Turkish passport, officials said.

The suspect wore a yellow T-shirt. The alleged bomber seen on video was also wearing a yellow T-shirt. He was forced to publicly re-enact the bombing at the shrine Saturday. Thai investigators commonly use this method.

A second suspect is also being held. Yusufu Mieraili is a 25-year-old native of Xinjiang, China. He is accused of providing the bomb and taking photographs of the blast.

Police said both men have confessed to the bombings.

FILE - Thai police stand guard as people pray during a crime re-enactment near the bomb site at Erawan shrine in central Bangkok, Thailand, Sept. 9, 2015.

FILE - Thai police stand guard as people pray during a crime re-enactment near the bomb site at Erawan shrine in central Bangkok, Thailand, Sept. 9, 2015.

Officials suspect 17 people were involved in the deadly attack on the Hindu religious place. A second bombing at Sathorn pier took place the following day, but no one was injured.

Earlier, investigators said the masterminds of the crime fled Thailand. They reject the idea that the attack was terrorism.

The Royal Thai police commissioner-general said the case was clear. He said the attackers were part of a human smuggling network. He said they acted against the Thai government’s force against human trafficking networks.

However, the top police and other officials say the group was likely hired by others. They said political interests could not be ruled out. Authorities have given few clues about other political motivations for the attack. Others have suggested it could be linked to political divisions in the country.

Thai officials have been unwilling to call the bombing a terrorist attack. They fear it will harm Thailand's important tourism industry.

But Thai media have drawn a link between the bombing and Thailand's actions against ethnic Uighurs. Thailand forcibly returned more than 100 ethnic Uighurs to China in July. Rights groups and exiled Uighurs condemned the move by the Thai military government. The Thai government has increased ties with China.

Turkey's diplomatic mission in Bangkok has twice expressed concerns about reported links to its nationals. It has also said there has been a lack of communication with Thai officials.

I'm Jonathan Evans.

Steve Herman reported this story for VOA. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

confidence n. a feeling of being certain that something will happen or something is true

contradictory adj. involving or having information that disagrees with other information; containing a contradiction

retribution n. punishment for doing something wrong

motivation n. a force or influence that causes someone to do something

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