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Thai police disarm explosive in fresh Bangkok bomb scare

Thai police found and defused a bomb in Bangkok on Monday (Aug 24), a week after an explosion in the heart of the Thai capital killed 20 people in the country’s worst ever bomb attack.

However, police are not clear if the device found at a construction site had anything to do with the earlier blast.

The discovery of the bomb came after police said the trail had gone cold in the hunt for those responsible for the Aug 17 attack near Bangkok’s famous Erawan shrine and they are unsure if the main suspect is still in the country.

“We received reports this afternoon of a bomb in Sukhumvit 81,” Kamthorn Aucharoen, commander of the police’s explosive ordnance team, told Reuters, referring to a road off of one of Bangkok’s main thoroughfares.

Police could not immediately confirm if the device was linked to last week's attack at the tourist attraction and a second explosion at a pier on Bangkok’s river a day later that caused no casualties.

Bomber could have left

The main evidence police have for last week’s attacks is security camera footage.

Some of the footage show the suspected bomber slipping off a backpack and walking away.

The young man with a yellow T-shirt and dark hair was also caught on closed circuit television camera leaving the scene on the back of a motorcycle taxi. But after that, there was very little of his whereabouts, police said.

“In terms of the CCTV cameras, some don’t capture images properly and some were damaged, which is a waste of time for police piecing together where the suspect went,” national police chief Somyot Poompanmuang told reporters.

“You want the truth? We don’t know if the suspect is still in Thailand but I have to assume he still is because we’ve got no information that he left.”

The government said the attack was aimed at undermining the economy by hurting tourism, an even more vital industry as growth flags in other sectors.

Chinese unperturbed

Half the 14 foreigners killed were from mainland China or Hong Kong, but the Thailand-China Tourism Association, which oversees more than 200 operators bringing Chinese visitors, said there was little sign Chinese holidaymakers had been put off.

China is Thailand’s biggest source of tourists.

“There have been maybe one or two cancellations here and there. Nothing major,” said association resident Ronnarong Cheewinsiriamnuai.

Chinese operators had not cancelled flights and overall, Ronnarong said, he had seen a dip of about 2 per cent in Chinese visitors.

One Singaporean was also killed in the bomb blast and about 900,000 Singaporeans visit Thailand every year. Singapore's Foreign Ministry had issued a travel advisory for Singaporeans to avoid the areas around the bomb blast for the time being.

The military government wants growth as it steers the country towards an election next year under a new constitution which critics say will not end a decade of turbulent politics.

- Reuters

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