Newspaper article International New York Times

Thai Police Hunt Group Planning 'A Lot of Bombs' ; Officials Seek Additional Suspects in Shrine Blast; One Says She Is Innocent

Newspaper article International New York Times

Thai Police Hunt Group Planning 'A Lot of Bombs' ; Officials Seek Additional Suspects in Shrine Blast; One Says She Is Innocent

Article excerpt

Two weeks after the attack, which killed 20 people, the authorities have remained vague on the possible motives of the perpetrators and have refused to classify it as terrorism.

The Thai police on Monday expanded their investigation into a deadly Bangkok shrine bombing after seizing explosives from a suburban apartment building and warning that the group they were pursuing had been preparing "quite a lot of bombs."

Yet two weeks after the attack, which killed 20 people, the Thai authorities have remained vague on the possible motives of the perpetrators and have refused to classify bombing as terrorism, despite what security experts say was a clear intent to cause maximum civilian casualties.

The blast, on Aug. 17 at Erawan, a popular Hindu shrine in the heart of the city, was the worst bombing in Thailand in decades.

Thailand's military government has decreed that officials call it a "disturbance" and has ordered all government agencies "to avoid using the terms terrorism or sabotage."

A leading theory about the attack is that it was connected to the repatriation in July of more than 100 ethnic Uighurs, a Turkic- speaking minority who live in northwestern China. The Thai news media has speculated that the group's repatriation to China may have provoked a revenge attack.

The same Thai directive that instructed officials to avoid the word terrorism, issued by the Interior Ministry, also banned officials from "mentioning any connection to Uighurs in this incident as it could create problems and have an international impact."

Commentators in the country have criticized numerous missteps in the investigation, including the showing on national television of what appeared to be a suicide vest when the police were revealing evidence seized from an apartment on Saturday. The police later apologized and said the vest had nothing to do with the case. …

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