By Nontarat Phaicharoen and Mariyam Ahmad
A Thai female suspect in a bombing that killed 20 people at Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine in 2015 was arrested on Wednesday as she arrived in Thailand from Turkey, the deputy national police chief said.
Wanna Suansan, a native of Pang-nga province in southern Thailand, allegedly rented apartments in Bangkok suburbs for suspected militants to construct bombs.
Two Uyghurs who were arrested shortly after the attack on the Hindu shrine, a popular tourist destination in the Thai capital, are to return to a military court before year’s end for the resumption of their trial. They could face the death penalty, if convicted.
“We were informed by immigration officers that Wanna was coming to Thailand via Suvarnabhumi Airport, so we arrested her using the warrant. She is the third suspect captured,” Police Gen. Srivara Ransibrahmanakul told reporters at the national police headquarters.
Wanna and her Turkish husband, Emrah Davutoglu, fled to Turkey following the Aug. 17, 2015, deadly blast at the shrine in central Bangkok where more than 120 people were injured. They were accused of having roles in the terrorist plot.
Wanna, who faces five criminal charges including first-degree murder and possessing war weapons, was being held for questioning at headquarters, only 100 meters from the site of the bombing. Police said she was not traveling with her husband and she identified herself when presented with the warrant.
Following the blast and a small pipe-bomb attack on the Sathorn passenger pier in Bangkok the next day, police issued warrants for 17 suspects including Thais and foreigners.
Adem Karadag (also known as Bilal Mohammed) and Yusufu Mierali, who identified themselves as Uyghurs from Urumqi in China’s Xinjiang region, were arrested a few weeks after the bomb attack. Srivara said investigators are searching for the other 14 suspects.
Malaysia: Escapee captured
Meanwhile, Malaysian authorities arrested a Uyghur man in northern Kedah state who is believed to have crossed into Malaysia after escaping from a Thai immigration detention center on Monday morning, an official said.
Kedah Police Chief Asri Yusoff said the man, in his 30s, was found Wednesday near a military post in Bukit Tangga. He said the suspect was detained by citizens, who alerted soldiers at the post before police were called.
“It is believed that the suspect was walking alone when he was found about eight kilometers (five miles) from Sadao, and checks revealed that he did not have any travel documents,” Asri said.
Previously, Thai police Capt. Surasak Siripan told reporters that 20 Uyghurs who had been held for two years at a detention facility in the southern province of Songkhla, near the border with Malaysia, escaped from their cells at about 2 a.m. Monday.
Maj. Gen. Jessada Yaisoon, the chief of the Thai immigration police’s 6th Region based in Songkhla, told BenarNews police from both nations have cooperated in the search for the Uyghurs. Jessada identified the escapee as Abdul Kayum, 28.
“We joined with Malaysian police to recapture Abdul. We took him to Sadao police station,” Jessada told BenarNews by phone. “We are looking for the rest and we suspect they are still in rubber plantation on Thai soil, or crossed into Malaysia. We have warrants [for] all of them.”
Hareez Lee in Kuala Lumpur and Fairuz Mazlan in Alor Setar, Malaysia, contributed to this report.