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Prayut addresses the UN

Posted by hasekamp on 30 September 2015 at 20:48 PM
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly, yesterday highlighted His Majesty the King's Sufficiency Economy Philosophy as a key to the success of Thailand's development. Thailand's socio-economic success of the past three decades - its ascension to the rank of middle-income country, and its current status as an equal partner for development, owed a great deal to the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy of His Majesty the King, Prayut said. Under the theme; "The United Nation at 70 - the road ahead to peace, security and human rights", the 70th session of the UN General Assembly was held on Monday and Tuesday. "It is my conviction that Thailand will be stable only when we have developed our-selves into a nation filled with virtuous, competent and enlightened citizens, who live their lives responsibly for the greater good," Prayut said. It is the first time Prayut has attended the UN General Assembly since the May 22 coup toppled the elected civilian government. (Source: The Nation)


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Erawan suspect says he was not paid

Posted by hasekamp on 30 September 2015 at 20:45 PM
The prime suspect in the Erawan Shrine bombing yesterday went back on his previous denials and admitted to his lawyer that he planted the deadly bomb, which killed 20 people and injured more than 100 others on August 17. "But he says he was not paid for it. So, I personally believe he might have done it to repay a personal favour," said Chuchart Kanphai, the suspect's lawyer. Chuchart yesterday met with his client, Bilal Mohammed, for more than two hours. The suspect, also known as Adem Karadag, had up to now stuck to his story that he was not the yellow-shirted person caught on a surveillance camera leaving a backpack full of explosives at Erawan Shrine. Chuchart said Bilal confessed to him that he had placed the bag containing the explosives at the site. He said he was acting in accordance to the instructions of Abdullah Abdullahman, who had been staying at the Poon Anan Apartment in Bangkok's Nong Chok district. Bilal was arrested at the same apartment on August 29 and bomb-making materials were also found. He and Abdullah stayed in different rooms on the same floor. For the first time since the bombing, it is now clear what role Abdullah played in the attack. On September 7, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Abdullah along with a sketch artist's drawing based on a description provided by Bilal. Chuchart said Bilal had told him he did not know any of the other suspects wanted for the blast, apart from Abdullah. "Bilal came to Thailand on August 14," Chuchart said. The lawyer said Bilal was sticking to his story that he planned to travel on to Malaysia. But the suspect has already backtracked from his previous claim that he was a Turkish citizen, Chuchart said. "He now tells me that he is an Uighur. Though born in Turkey, he had lived in Urunchi, China," the lawyer said. He added that Bilal had asked for an Uighur interpreter because he could not speak English or Turkish fluently. (Source: The Nation)


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Unopened dolphinarium waits for dolphins

Posted by hasekamp on 24 September 2015 at 11:06 AM
The unopened Nemo Dolphinarium in Chalong (Phuket) has secured permission from the Department of Fisheries in Bangkok to import dolphins and other marine animals for the hotly-contested Phuket attraction. "We are now working on importing the animals for the show. However, we have yet to confirm how many will be allowed for the performance," said the dolphinarium project manager, who asked not to be named. It was reported earlier that four bottlenose dolphins, not six as originally reported, as well as sea lions and seals were destined for the facility. "In the meantime, our marketing team is working on promoting the show. We don't expect to have a very big grand opening, we just want to offer another entertainment option to tourists," the representative said. The dolphinarium is slated to open for the upcoming high season in November. However, the company is prepared for it to take a little longer, perhaps not opening until December. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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EU wants respect for human rights

Posted by hasekamp on 24 September 2015 at 10:59 AM
European Union (EU) Thursday called upon the Prayut government to respect freedom of speech and the right to demonstrate as the process of writing a new charter draft is about to begin. In a statement released today, the delegation and EU Heads of Mission in Thailand said that only a full and free public debate in which also critical voices can be heard will allow for true reform and reconciliation. The statement was released to concide with Thailand's move to start the drafting process of a new constitution. "The EU Delegation believes that the rule of law and the protection and promotion of human rights are crucial elements for stability and progress and calls upon the Thai authorities to abide by Thailand's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," it said. It also stressed the commitment to the Thai people. "As a friend and partner of Thailand, the EU has repeatedly called for the democratic process to be restored." (Source: The Nation)


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Koh Tao suspects probably innocent. No DNA match

Posted by hasekamp on 24 September 2015 at 10:56 AM
LAWYERS defending two Myanmar migrant workers on trial for the murders of two British backpackers sought yesterday to expose holes in a police investigation they maintain was botched and intended to frame the suspects. The conduct of Thailand's police and treatment of its huge Myanmar labour force has been central to the trial of the young men accused of killing Hannah Witheridge and David Miller a year ago on the island of Koh Tao. Post-mortem examinations showed the victims suffered severe head wounds and Witheridge was raped, but lawyers and activists say the two Myanmar accused, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, have been made scapegoats for the killings. The case has attracted extensive media attention in Britain and raised questions about Thailand's ability to protect its tourists. The bodies of the tourists were found on a beach on the small island popular with backpackers and divers. The hearings are taking place on nearby Koh Samui, where the defence would present a statement from a British expert who has analysed surveillance camera footage being used as evidence. The expert was contacted by Briton Andy Hall, a Thailand-based activist who specialises in protecting the rights of Myanmar labourers and exposing abuses. Police have stood by their investigation and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has insisted "nobody would dare" go after the wrong suspects because the case was so high-profile. The defence has used Thailand's foremost forensics expert to scrutinise DNA samples that police said tied the two men to the murders. The court has heard that DNA found on the murder weapon did not match that of the defendants. The court ordered a re-examination of the samples after police said they had lost the DNA, then contradicted themselves. They said in October the two Myanmar men, both 22, had confessed. But the suspects retracted those confessions, saying they were given under duress. Defence lawyer Nakhon Chompuchat said yesterday that his duty was to convince the judge to question whether the evidence was credible enough to convict the men. (Source: The Nation)


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Bomber in custody after all?

Posted by hasekamp on 24 September 2015 at 10:48 AM
Security officers have found new evidence leading them to turn their focus back to the detained suspect Bilal Turk, also known as Adem Karadag, as he could be the Erawan shrine bomber. Mr Karadag was arrested on Aug 29 at a room in the Pool Anant apartment in Nong Chok district of the capital where authorities discovered bomb-making material. Authorities had earlier believed he had only stored the material in the room. But according to the latest evidence and investigation, authorities suspect he might be the perpetrator of the Erawan shrine blast on Aug 17 which killed 20 people and injured 130 others, security sources said. Meanwhile, in Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia detains 8 in bomb probe Some of the evidence comes from CCTV footage shot in Lumpini Park showing a yellow-shirted man suspected of planting the deadly bomb at the shrine going into a toilet in the park, where he changed his shirt to a grey one. The man seen in the footage leaving the toilet resembles Mr Karadag, the sources said. After leaving the park, he took a public bus to the apartment in Nong Chok. Mr Karadag has a long scar on his arm, while the yellow-shirted suspect seen in the footage had straps around both of his arms, the source added. According to the sources, the new evidence was shown to Mr Karadag who is now in custody at the 11th Army Circle, and he allegedly admitted to being the yellow-shirted suspect who disguised himself, wearing a wig and glasses. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Chinese tourists blacklisted

Posted by hasekamp on 14 September 2015 at 12:41 PM
Chinese authorities have named and shamed four travellers over an incident at Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok in which they vented their frustration by belting out the Chinese national anthem. The four were part of a group from Chongqing whose flight home had been delayed by eight hours. The flight was scheduled to take off at 5.40pm on Sept 4, but Orient Thai Airlines delayed it until 3am the next day due to heavy rain and plane maintenance work. When the plane arrived, they refused to board until their compensation demands were met, then broke into the national anthem amid hooting, shouts and general chaos in the departure lounge. The Chongqing tourism bureau subsequently blacklisted 33 people from the group, requesting all travel agencies not to accept them as members of tour groups, according to a report in the Western China City Daily, a newspaper in Chengdu in Sichuan province. The agency said on Saturday that it had added the travellers' names to its list of those accused of "uncivilised behaviour". The four "incited other travelers to disrespect public order in the airport, spoke and acted hysterically, seriously harmed the image of Chinese travellers abroad", the administration said in a statement. Their names will remain on the list for between two and three years. Numerous incidents of bad behaviour by Chinese tourists abroad, from fighting with air crews to defacing cultural artefacts, have drawn widespread derision in China. That prompted the administration last year to create the list, which now contains 11 names. Others named and shamed have included a couple who poured instant noodles soaked in hot water onto an AirAsia flight attendant and made insults and threats in a dispute over seating. Another opened the emergency doors on a domestic flight during a delay and still another had climbed onto statues of revolutionary heroes to have his photo taken. Rising incomes and cheap flights have resulted in record numbers of Chinese travelling domestically and abroad. Among other complaints are line-cutting, smoking in public, littering and fouling public toilets. (Source: Associated Press)


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Prayut: Why not dust off old charters?

Posted by hasekamp on 14 September 2015 at 12:35 PM
If the charter written by a new drafting panel fails to pass a referendum, then the best parts from the 1997 and 2007 constitutions, which were abolished, and the draft charter rejected by the National Reform Council could be blended into yet another constitution, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Monday. Gen Prayut was replying to questions about Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam's suggestion that the two previous charters and the draft prepared by the committee led by Bowornsak Uwanno be considered. Since the 1997 and 2007 charters were both said to be good, they could be taken up for consideration, he said. The draft charter which was rejected by the NRC should also be considered, he added. Gen Prayut said people should not judge a charter as being democratic or undemocratic based solely on the belief that having elections means having a democracy. "My question is, what should be done so that we can have a government with good governance that can continue the reform process," the prime minister said. Not all elected governments were good, and some had betrayed the people. "There must be no more of those that cheated and became entangled in court cases. Ask the people for an opinion whether my government is better than an elected government," he said. Gen Prayut said it was not necessary to include politicians on the charter drafting committee. If they were, the job would never be finished. However, there might be politicians in the planned 200-member national reform steering assembly (NRSA), which would proceed with implementation of plans laid down by the NRC before it was dissolved. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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King's health bulletin 13-09-2015

Posted by hasekamp on 14 September 2015 at 12:24 PM
Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-reigning monarch, has received treatment for a blood infection and lung inflammation, the palace said on Sunday. The 87-year-old monarch has been in Bangkok's Siriraj hospital for more than three months and has been treated for water on the brain since being admitted for a check-up in May. He was treated for a chest infection on Monday. King Bhumibol's health is watched closely in Thailand, where he is widely revered as a moral arbiter and symbol of continuity in a country that has seen much upheaval during his 69-year reign. The king had on Saturday developed high fever and had a lower than normal concentration of blood oxygen, the palace said in a statement."A blood examination found infection. X-ray results on the chest found inflammation in the lower left lung," it said, adding that his blood pressure was normal but fever remained. Doctors adjusted antibiotics and administered additional oxygen, the palace said. (Source: Reuters; it looks as if Thai media did not yet report this health bulletin)


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Why was the charter rejected?

Posted by hasekamp on 9 September 2015 at 11:45 AM
THE INCLUSION of the National Strategic Reform and Reconciliation Committee (NSRRC) in the draft charter was the main reason the Democrat Party rejected the draft, fearing it would stir conflict in society, said Soracha Weerachartwattana, former Democrat MP for Samut Prakan province. "In the draft charter, there were issues like [the creation of] the National Strategic Reform and Reconciliation Commission (NSRRC) being introduced at the very last moment without careful consideration about the issue. This could have been the main factor leading to another conflict in society," said Soracha. She added that another reason for the party having rejected the draft was that the current interim charter did not allow for any amendment to the draft. This could have caused more problems in the future, she stressed. According to Soracha, this was why its party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva had suggested to the National Reform Council (NRC)'s rejection of the draft charter and allowing it to be amended in parts deemed controversial before going to the referendum process. This would not be time-consuming, said Soracha, referring to Abhisit's idea. Soracha said the suggestion made by the Democrat Party was with good intentions.(Source: The Nation)


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Erawan suspects get trial in civilian court

Posted by hasekamp on 9 September 2015 at 11:41 AM
SUSPECTS linked to bomb attacks in Bangkok last month will face trial in civilian criminal courts - not a military court, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday. Prayut said the cases were serious for both Thai and foreign suspects allegedly involved in the incidents and the justice process had to be universally acceptable. Earlier, police reportedly planned to transfer the cases to the military court. Meanwhile, tourism chiefs have reported an estimated loss of 1.33 million foreign tourists and potential income of Bt64 billion due to the deadly attack at the Erawan Shrine. The Tourism and Sports Ministry said the dramas in Bangkok on August 17 and 18 led to many countries issuing travel warnings about the Kingdom. Economic impacts were expected to be most damaging in August and this month. If there are no further incidents, a recovery in the tourism industry is expected in the last quarter of this year. To date, authorities have arrested two suspects. They were identified as Mieraili Yusufu, a Chinese national of Uighur ethnicity, and Adem Karadag, who carries what appears to be a fake Turkish passport. The alleged mastermind, Abu Dustar Abdulrahman or 'Izan', is reported to have flown out via Suvarnabhumi Airport on August 16. His air ticket showed he was headed for Bangladesh. (Source: The Nation)


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Erawan bombing re-enacted

Posted by hasekamp on 9 September 2015 at 11:37 AM
Mr Mieraili, who was arrested last week by Sa Kaeo police while attempting to cross into Cambodia, has confessed to police investigators and at a press conference that he was part of the bombers' network. The re-enactment began on Tuesday when Mr Mieraili was escorted to Maimuna Garden Home apartments in Min Buri district, where he had stayed. He was then taken to Pool Anant apartments in Nong Chok district, where he said he picked up a black backpack and then took a taxi to Hua Lamphong railway station and there delivered the bag to a man wearing a yellow T-shirt. On Wednesday morning, he was taken to Ratchaprasong intersection to re-enact the final stages of the crime. The re-enactment began at Hua Lampong, where he hired a tuk-tuk and alighted in front of Wat Pathumwanaram at Ratchaprasong. From there, he walked to an open plaza in front of the CentralWorld shopping centre, opposite the Erawan Shrine, where he waited and then took pictures of the bomb explosion. He then walked to Soi Phetchburi 27, took a taxi to Ramkhamhaeng area and then returned by bus to Min Buri. The re-enactment on Wednesday lasted about one hour amid very tight security, with police and soldiers seemingly everywhere, and caused a traffic jam at Ratchaprasong intersection. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Bomber identified?

Posted by hasekamp on 9 September 2015 at 11:33 AM
Suspect No.1 Yusufu Mieraili, 25, re-enacted his story of receiving and handing off the Erawan shrine bomb at a Nong Chok apartment house. Police say Abudureheman Abudusataer, 27, is their prime suspect as the mastermind of the Aug 17 Erawan shrine bombing. The name was taken from the Chinese passport he used to enter and leave Thailand. (Immigration photo obtained from police investigators) An arrest warrant has been issued for another man believed to have played a key role in organising last month's deadly Erawan shrine bombing, according to a source. The Bangkok South Criminal Court approved on Tuesday the Metropolitan Police Bureau's (MPB) arrest warrant for the suspect, identified as Abudureheman Abudusataer, 27, from China's Xinjiang region, the source said. His alias among the detained bomb suspects was "Ishan", the source added. Blast suspect Yusufu Mieraili, 25, allegedly told police during 14 hours of questioning that Ishan had arranged meetings of the bombing cell and assigned them their tasks, another source said. The second source added that Ishan had left Thailand on a flight from Suvarnabhumi airport on Aug 16 one day before the blast. Police were investigating where he escaped to, the source added. Mr Mieraili has confessed to MPB investigators that he was part of the bombing network, the source said. He had been interrogated by the MPB after he was handed over from the 11th Army Circle in Bangkok, where he had been detained after he was arrested, according to the military, in Sa Kaeo district of Aranyaprathet province. Mr Mieraili told police he had been staying at the Maimuna Garden Home apartment on Ratuthit Soi 25/8 in Bangkok's Min Buri district. On the day of the bombing he travelled to the Pool Anant apartment in Nong Chok district where he picked up a black backpack and took a taxi to Hua Lamphong railway station where he delivered the bag to a man wearing a yellow T-shirt, the source said. Mr Mieraili said it was the first time he had met the man, and that he did not realise at the time that the backpack contained a bomb, the source said. He then went to the skywalk near CentralWorld department store where he took photos of the blast aftermath before fleeing, the source added. Mr Mieraili has denied detonating the bomb that killed 20 people and injured 130 at the Erawan shrine. During his interrogation, police also discovered he knew another suspect wanted in connection with the bomb blast near Sathon pier on Aug 18, the source said. That suspect, wearing a blue shirt, was caught on security camera footage dropping a bomb in the canal near the pier. Following the pier bomb, Mr Mieraili told investigators he stayed in an apartment with the yellow- and blue-shirted suspects in Min Buri district, the source said. The yellow-shirted suspect was caught on a security camera sitting in a taxi passing Rajamangala Stadium as it headed in the direction of Min Buri, the source added. Police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri reiterated that Mr Mieraili was a crucial part of the investigation into the case. He has been charged with illegal possession of explosives and faces additional charges for involvement in the bombing. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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What happens now that the constitution has been rejected?

Posted by hasekamp on 6 September 2015 at 16:17 PM
This is the timeline after the draft constitution was rejected. By October 6, 2015: A new charter drafting team is set up by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). It will have 180 days to draft a new constitution. By April 2016: A new charter must be completed. September 2016: A national referendum takes place to pass the new charter draft. If it passes, a process of drafting organic laws will take around six months. April 2017: A general election is held if the draft passes the referendum. If it fails to pass the referendum, another round of drafting will begin or one of the previous Constitutions will be used. (Source: The Nation)


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Tenth suspect

Posted by hasekamp on 6 September 2015 at 16:13 PM
POLICE are set to seek a warrant for the arrest of a tenth suspect in connection with last month's Erawan Shrine bombing, a source close to the investigation said yesterday. Police investigators are likely to seek court permission to issue the warrant tomorrow, the source said. The 10th suspect had stayed with a foreign man identified as Adem Karadag, who was the first suspect arrested in connection with the August 17 attack. Karadag was taken to Min Buri Prison yesterday. The tenth suspect stayed at the same apartment as Karadag, who was nabbed on Saturday last week at a building in Bangkok's Nong Chok district. "The earliest police can seek an arrest warrant for the tenth suspect is on Monday," the source said, adding that the police have a sketch of the man. Royal Thai Police spokesman Lt-General Prawut Thavornsiri said yesterday that police had yet to identify the man's nationality or name. But they believed he was also involved with the bombing. So far in the investigation, nine arrest warrants have been issued. (Source:The Nation)


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Draft constitution rejected

Posted by hasekamp on 6 September 2015 at 16:09 PM
The National Reform Council on Sunday voted 135-105 with seven abstentions to reject the draft constitution. The rejection of the draft charter was as expected following heavy lobbying during the past week, reportedly by NRC members closely linked to the military. Earlier on Sunday, as of 8am, a large number of metropolitan police, both in uniforms and plainclothes, were deployed in the parliament compound and outside. The meeting for the vote began at 10am under the chairmanship of council president Thienchay Kiranandana In the voting process, NRC members are called up by their names alphabetically to declare verbally to "approve" or "reject" the draft constitution. Following the vote count, which took less than one hour, Mr Thienchay announced the result which saw 135 members voted to reject the draft and 105 voted for it, while seven members abstained. As a result of the draft charter being voted down, the National Reform Council's term ends and a 21-memeber charter drafting committee will be set up. It will have 180 days to draft a new charter. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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And the reward goes to .

Posted by hasekamp on 1 September 2015 at 21:40 PM
The reward of 3,000,000 Baht (about 75,000) offered for the catching of the "Erawan bomber" has been paid out to the Thai police, for their arrests (so far!) in the case. Although catching suspects in most countries is the normal task of the police, in Thailand police officers seem to be liable to get rewards, offered to solve crimes. This crime has not yet been solved, and it is not even clear of the suspects arrested were involved, but nevertheless the sum has been paid. So, there is no more reward to be earned.


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BBC News is clearer than Thai sources

Posted by hasekamp on 1 September 2015 at 21:32 PM
A second foreign suspect has been arrested in connection with the deadly bombing at a Bangkok shrine in August, the Thai prime minister has said. The male suspect was arrested in Sa Kaeo province, east of Bangkok on the border with Cambodia, Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters. He described the man as "a main suspect". A foreign man was arrested in Bangkok on Saturday over the blast at Erawan shrine, which killed 20 people. Thai military authorities have been interrogating the 28-year-old man, but they have not yet released his name or nationality. Bomb-making materials and forged passports were found at the apartment where he was detained in Nong Jok on the outskirts of Bangkok, and he has been charged with possessing illegal explosives, police said.It is unclear whether either of the two arrested men are the suspect seen on a security camera leaving a backpack at the crowded shrine shortly before the bombing on 17 August. Thai authorities have issued three more arrest warrants - making seven in total. (Source: BBC News)


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Erawan bombers though to be traced

Posted by hasekamp on 1 September 2015 at 21:25 PM
Police believe the two prime bombing suspects in the Erawan and Sathon pier explosions are hiding in Cambodia and have asked Phnom Penh authorities to hunt them down, a Crime Suppression Division (CSD) source said Monday. Meanwhile, a reporter on Monday night spoke with the most-wanted Thai Muslim woman, who said she has been in Turkey for the past three months and was "shocked" to be accused of the crime on national Thai TV. A woman who said she is Wanna Suansan, 26, of Phang-nga, with the Muslim name Maisaroh, told an AFP reporter she had already spoken with police via telephone. Later, she said officers from Bangkok had called her back to tell her not to speak to the media. Speaking to AFP by telephone, the woman who identified herself as Wanna said she was currently living in the central Turkish city of Kayseri with her husband and that she was last in Thailand three months ago. "I have not been to that apartment for almost one year now," she said, adding that she had sublet the flat to a friend of her husband's. The woman, whose identity AFP could not further confirm, said she was horrified to learn via a Thai friend she had been named as a suspect. Authorities told the Bangkok Post they had spoken to "a relative" of Ms Wanna, who said she is in Turkey and she would be willing to return to Thailand to meet with officers.Also on Monday, the prime minister admitted that the network involved in the bombings could be linked to human trafficking rings smuggling Uighurs. He stressed the need for investigators to find out where the suspect bought the bomb-making materials. "The priority is that we must stop perpetrators from being able to obtain bomb-making components in this country," he said. The prime minister said rental apartments and hotels must carry out stringent background checks when people check in. Based on CCTV footage, one suspect is the man in the yellow T-shirt who allegedly planted the bomb at the Erawan shrine. The other suspect is the man in a blue shirt who dropped a plastic bag with a suspected explosive device from a footbridge across Sathon canal on Aug 17. The two are among four suspects wanted on arrest warrants.Meanwhile a bomb suspect was arrested on Tuesday at the Thai border with Cambodia, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said. The prime minister said the foreigner was arrested while trying to cross the border at Ban Pa Rai in Aranyaprathet district in Sa Kaeo province. He said the person arrested was the primary suspect seen wearing a yellow shirt in CCTV footage from the night of the Aug 17 bombing at the Erawan shrine in Bangkok. An arrest warrant already has been issued for a person matching his description. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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