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Thai police issue arrest warrant for 'foreign' bomb suspect

Published 19/08/2015

This image released by the Royal Thai Police on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, shows a detailed sketch of the main suspect in a bombing that killed 20 people at the Erawan shrine in downtown Bangkok, on Monday (Royal Thai Police via AP)
This image released by the Royal Thai Police on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, shows a detailed sketch of the main suspect in a bombing that killed 20 people at the Erawan shrine in downtown Bangkok, on Monday (Royal Thai Police via AP)
A Thai lights a candle near the Erawan Shrine the day after an explosion in Bangkok (AP)

Police in Thailand have issued an arrest warrant for an "unidentified foreign man" seen leaving a bag minutes before a deadly bombing at a Bangkok shrine.

Police also released a sketch of the man they believe carried out Monday's bombing and offered a 1 million baht (£18,000) reward for help leading to his arrest. But apart from the rough portrait, authorities had few solid leads.

At a news conference, the national police chief expressed uncertainty about the man's origin. Somyot Poompanmoung said the suspect "looks like a foreigner" but "might have been in a disguise and wearing a fake nose" to conceal his identity.

Two days after the attack, which authorities have called the worst in Thai history, the open-air Erawan Shrine reopened to the public.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast that left 20 people dead and more than 120 injured at one of the capital's busiest intersections during evening rush hour.

A grainy security video shows the man, wearing a yellow T-shirt and shorts, sitting on a bench at the shrine, taking off a black backpack and leaving it behind as he stands up and then walks away. Time stamps on the video show he left the shrine 15 minutes before the explosion, which struck just before 7pm.

"If citizens or anyone can give us information or clues that lead to the arrest of this man, I have set a reward of 1 million baht," Mr Somyot said, adding that police believe the bomber worked with accomplices.

"He didn't do it alone, for sure. It's a network," Mr Somyot said. Police spokesman Lt Gen Prawut Thavornsiri said the security video appears to show two possible accomplices standing in front of the man who are also considered suspects.

Police composed the sketch based on the video and a description provided by a motorcycle taxi driver believed to have given him a ride on Monday night.

The sketch shows a young man in glasses with bushy, dark hair that is cropped at the sides. The warrant describes him as tall, with a pointed nose and thick lips. He faces six charges including conspiring to commit premeditated murder and conspiring to commit a bombing that resulted in death and severe injuries.

A Thai soldier ropes off the scene after a bomb exploded outside a religious shrine in central Bangkok late on August 17, 2015 killing at least 10 people and wounding scores more. AFP/Getty Images
A Thai soldier ropes off the scene after a bomb exploded outside a religious shrine in central Bangkok late on August 17, 2015 killing at least 10 people and wounding scores more. AFP/Getty Images
Emergency personnel work at the scene after an explosion in Bangkok, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. A large explosion rocked a central Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour, killing a number of people and injuring others, police said. (AP Photo/Sackchai Lalit)
A policeman photographs debris from an explosion in central Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. A large explosion rocked a central Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour, killing a number of people and injuring others, police said. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Police investigate the scene after an explosion in Bangkok, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. A large explosion rocked a central Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour, killing a number of people and injuring others, police said. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Explosive Ordnance Disposal officers enter the Erawan Shrine after an explosion in Bangkok, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. A large explosion rocked a central Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour, killing a number of people and injuring others, police said. (AP Photo/Sackchai Lalit)
Motorcycles are strewn about after an explosion in Bangkok, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. A large explosion rocked a central Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour, killing a number of people and injuring others, police said. (AP Photo/Jerry Harmer)
Officials close off an intersection after an explosion in Bangkok, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. A large explosion rocked a central Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour, killing a number of people and injuring others, police said. (AP Photo/Sackchai Lalit)
Police investigate the scene after an explosion in Bangkok, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. A large explosion rocked a central Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour, killing a number of people and injuring others, police said(AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Police investigate the scene after an explosion in Bangkok,Thailand, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. A large explosion rocked a central Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour, killing a number of people and injuring others, police said. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Police investigate the scene at the Erawan Shrine after an explosion in Bangkok,Thailand, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. A large explosion rocked a central Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour, killing a number of people and injuring others, police said(AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Emergency workers attend to the wounded after an explosion at an intersection in Bangkok, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. A bomb exploded at a popular shrine near a key political protest site in central Bangkok on Monday evening, the government said, killing a number of people and injuring many others. (AP Photo/Jerry Harmer)
Police investigate the scene at the Erawan Shrine after an explosion in Bangkok,Thailand, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. A large explosion rocked a central Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour, killing a number of people and injuring others, police said(AP Photo/Mark Baker)
In this image provided by Mongkol Nunthalikitkun flames burn after an explosion in Bangkok, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. A large explosion rocked a central Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour, killing a number of people and injuring others, police said. (Mongkol Nunthalikitkun via AP)
A policeman photographs debris from an explosion in central Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. A large explosion rocked a central Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour, killing a number of people and injuring others, police said. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Police investigate the scene after an explosion in Bangkok, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. A large explosion rocked a central Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour, killing a number of people and injuring others, police said(AP Photo/Mark Baker)
In this image provided by Mongkol Nunthalikitkun flames burn after an explosion in Bangkok, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. A large explosion rocked a central Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour, killing a number of people and injuring others, police said. (Mongkol Nunthalikitkun via AP)
Police investigate the scene after an explosion in Bangkok, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. A large explosion rocked a central Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour, killing a number of people and injuring others, police said(AP Photo/Mark Baker)
ALTERNATIVE CROP Thai soldiers and police officers inspect the scene of a bomb blast outside a religious shrine in central Bangkok late on August 17, 2015. At least 16 people were killed and dozens injured when a bomb exploded Monday outside a religious shrine in a bustling hub of the Thai capital popular with tourists, authorities said. AFP PHOTO / PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKULPORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images
Thai soldiers stand on the scene of a bomb blast outside a religious shrine in central Bangkok late on August 17, 2015. At least 16 people were killed and dozens injured when a bomb exploded Monday outside a religious shrine in a bustling hub of the Thai capital popular with tourists, authorities said. AFP PHOTO / PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKULPORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images
Thai rescue workers transport damaged motorcycles from the scene of a bomb blast outside a religious shrine in central Bangkok late on August 17, 2015. At least 16 people were killed and dozens injured when a bomb exploded today outside a religious shrine in a bustling hub of the Thai capital popular with tourists, authorities said. AFP PHOTO / PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKULPORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images
Thai soldiers and police stand guard after a bomb exploded outside a religious shrine in central Bangkok late on August 17, 2015 killing at least 10 people and wounding scores more. Body parts were scattered across the street after the explosion outside the Erawan Shrine in the downtown Chidlom district of the Thai capital. AFP PHOTO / PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKULPORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on September 9, 1999 shows tourists paying homage to the Erawan Shrine in central Bangkok. At least 10 people were killed and many injured when a bomb exploded on August 17, 2015 outside the popular Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, Thailand's police chief said. The Erawan is an enormously popular shrine to the Hindu god Brahma but is visited by thousands of Buddhist devotees every day. AFP PHOTO / FILES / Pornchai KITTIWONGSAKULPORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images
A Thai soldier (R) looks at the damage after a bomb exploded outside a religious shrine in central Bangkok late on August 17, 2015 killing at least 10 people and wounding scores more. Body parts were scattered across the street after the explosion outside the Erawan Shrine in the downtown Chidlom district of the Thai capital. AFP PHOTO / PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKULPORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images
A Thai soldier ropes off the scene after a bomb exploded outside a religious shrine in central Bangkok late on August 17, 2015 killing at least 10 people and wounding scores more. Body parts were scattered across the street after the explosion outside the Erawan Shrine in the downtown Chidlom district of the Thai capital. AFP PHOTO / PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKULPORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images
Thai police inspect the scene after a bomb exploded outside a religious shrine in central Bangkok late on August 17, 2015 killing at least 10 people and wounding scores more. Body parts were scattered across the street after the explosion outside the Erawan Shrine in the downtown Chidlom district of the Thai capital. AFP PHOTO / PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKULPORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images
Thai rescue workers transport an injured person after a bomb exploded outside a religious shrine in central Bangkok late on August 17, 2015 killing at least 10 people and wounding scores more. Body parts were scattered across the street after the explosion outside the Erawan Shrine in the downtown Chidlom district of the Thai capital. AFP PHOTO / PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKULPORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images
Thai rescue workers transport an injured person after a bomb exploded outside a religious shrine in central Bangkok late on August 17, 2015 killing at least 10 people and wounding scores more. Body parts were scattered across the street after the explosion outside the Erawan Shrine in the downtown Chidlom district of the Thai capital. AFP PHOTO / PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKULPORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images
Thai rescue workers carry an injured person after a bomb exploded outside a religious shrine in central Bangkok late on August 17, 2015 killing at least 10 people and wounding scores more. Body parts were scattered across the street after the explosion outside the Erawan Shrine in the downtown Chidlom district of the Thai capital. AFP PHOTO / PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKULPORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images
Thai soldiers stand guard at the scene after a bomb exploded outside a religious shrine in central Bangkok late on August 17, 2015 killing at least 10 people and wounding scores more. At least 16 people were killed and dozens injured when a bomb exploded August 17 outside a religious shrine in a bustling hub of the Thai capital popular with tourists, authorities said. AFP PHOTO / PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKULPORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images
BANGKOK, THAILAND - AUGUST 17: Policemen check the scene of an explosion on August 17, 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand. A large explosion believed to be from a bomb has happened in central Bangkok this evening with early reports suggesting 12 people have died and at least 20 more have been injured. (Photo by Nicolas Axelrod/Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND - AUGUST 17: Emergency services workers collect evidence at the scene of an explosion on August 17, 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand. A large explosion believed to be from a bomb has happened in central Bangkok this evening with early reports suggesting 12 people have died and at least 20 more have been injured. (Photo by Nicolas Axelrod/Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND - AUGUST 17: Police chief Somyot Poompanmoung is interviewed by the press on August 17, 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand. A large explosion believed to be from a bomb has happened in central Bangkok on the evening of Tuesday 17th of August, 2015. Early reports suggest 12 people have died and at least 20 more injured. (Photo by Nicolas Axelrod/Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND - AUGUST 17: A rescue workers near the scene of an explosion on August 17, 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand. A large explosion believed to be from a bomb has happened in central Bangkok this evening with early reports suggesting 12 people have died and at least 20 more have been injured. (Photo by Nicolas Axelrod/Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND - AUGUST 17: A rescue worker walks past the scene of an explosion on August 17, 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand. A large explosion believed to be from a bomb has happened in central Bangkok this evening with early reports suggesting 12 people have died and at least 20 more have been injured. (Photo by Nicolas Axelrod/Getty Images)

The attack has raised concerns about safety in a city that draws millions of tourists.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha "is worried about the security of people and tourists in Thailand," the police chief said.

Mr Prayuth has called the attack "the worst incident that has ever happened in Thailand" and vowed to track down those responsible.

The Erawan Shrine is a revered spot among Thais and tourists that transcends religion. It is dedicated to the Hindu god Brahma, but is extremely popular among Thailand's Buddhists as well as Chinese tourists.

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