Bangkok's Erawan Shrine bomb: One suspect 'is Chinese'


MPA (400+ posts)

Yusufu Mieraili re-enacted events leading up to the bomb blast with police near the Erawan shrine on Wednesday

One of the alleged accomplices to the key suspect wanted over the Erawan Shrine bombing in the Thai capital Bangkok last month is Chinese, officials from both countries say.

They say that Yusufu Mieraili was born in Xinjiang, home to China's Muslim Uighur minority.

A Chinese official told the Global Times that the bombing may have been the work of separatists in Xinjiang.

No-one has laid claim to the attack, which killed 20 people.

Thai police say Mr Mieraili is part of a group responsible for the blast.

The Global Times reported a Chinese official as saying that he belonged to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a small Islamist separatist group said to be active in Xinjiang province in western China.

The Bangkok Post reported that he told investigators that his parents still live in the region.

The main suspect - a man wearing a yellow t-shirt who left a rucksack at the shrine moments before the 17 August blast - is still believed to be on the run.

Mr Mieraili was taken to the scene of the explosion on Wednesday morning for a crime scene re-enactment.

Wearing a bulletproof vest and with his hands bound, he was escorted by police to the elevated pedestrian skywalk above the shrine.

Mr Mieraili has confessed to handing a backpack to the suspected bomber at Bangkok's main railway station shortly before the blast, Thai police say.

China is closely watching the investigation in Bangkok, correspondents say, as speculation mounts that sympathisers of the country's Uighur community could be the chief suspects.

China has long faced criticism for the perceived harsh restrictions it places on religion and culture in Xinjiang, where the majority of Uighurs live.

Thailand recently found itself in the spotlight following its forced repatriation of more than 100 Uighurs to China.

Any confirmation that Mr Mieraili is Chinese would throw the spotlight on an ethnic conflict that China has long argued poses an international threat, the BBC's Jon Sudworth in Beijing recently reported.

Thai police arrested Mr Mieraili, 25, at the beginning of this month in Sa Kaeo province on the border with Cambodia. He was holding a Chinese passport, but police warned at the time that it could be fake.

Earlier another suspect, Adem Karadag was arrested in a raid on a flat on the eastern outskirts of Bangkok.

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