Mixed messages cloud Bangkok bombing investigation (dpa German Press Agency)

Bangkok (dpa) – The police investigation into the bombing of a shrine
in central Bangkok five days back has produced some possible clues
about who was behind the attack, but has also led to considerable
confusion.

Earlier this week, police and the ruling military government seemed
undecided as to whether the main suspect was still in Thailand.

Police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri said it was possible the suspect
– picked out from CCTV – may have left the country, while junta
spokesman Weerachon Sukhonthapatipak maintained to the press that he
was still in Thailand.

The day after an arrest warrant was issued on Wednesday for a
“foreigner” in connection with the bombing, government spokesman
Winthai Suvaree said: “We do not believe at this time that the
suspect was part of a larger international terrorist network.”

Meanwhile, two possible suspects seen on CCTV at the blast site
turned out to be a tour guide and a Chinese national, who had already
returned home.

The authorities took steps Friday to stem the tide of apparently
inconsistent information.

Police chief Somyot Poompanmoung said he had ordered his staff to
stop making statements to the media.

The police have sought international help with the investigation, but
here too there have been mixed messages.

It remains unclear whether Thailand has formally asked for help from
Interpol in the search for the bombers, with differing accounts from
different officials.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters on Friday that he
hoped to receive facial recognition technology from the United States
to help with the case, but then said he had refused to let US
officials join the investigation.

The Bangkok Post has called the official reaction to the bombing
“disappointing.” University of London politics lecturer Lee Jones,
writing in the widely read regional newsletter New Mandala, described
the investigation as a “farce.”

The Bangkok Metropolitan office has also come under fire for
reopening the Erawan shrine just three days after the blast, despite
concerns that some evidence may have been gone unnoticed at the bomb
site.

“The government did not forbid us from cleaning the site. If I didn’t
do it the Bangkok people will say I am incompetent,” Bangkok Governor
Sukhumbhand Paribatra said.