To this hour, no individual or group has publicly claimed responsibility for the bombing, and while authorities say they are actively hunting the suspect identified on the CCTV, more questions than answers remain.
Political unrest in Thailand is prevalent and sometimes violent, but observers say Monday’s attack was unparalleled in its intended destruction. Today (18 August) another separate grenade attack was reported at Bangkok’s Taksin Bridge though no casualties were reported.
Thai security apparatus are not been able to point precisely on those involved though there have been emerging reports that the Red Shirt populist group will likely be single out as the key suspect. Analysts are equally divided on whom is the likely culprit in the latest Bangkok’s carnage. News reports largely have been focusing on three most likely actors for the latest Bangkok bombing. The Asian Diplomat examines into these carefully.
Thai domestic Political factionalism.
Violent political clashes and protest has been occurring over a decade between various political factions in Thailand which to date caused mass injuries and lost of lives. However political tensions between Thailand’s pro-monarchy, pro-military old guard and the country’s growing populist camp have escalated over the past 15 months, since a military coup d’état — the country’s second in less than a decade — which also overthrew the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Her ousting and Prayuth’s increasingly authoritarian junta have enraged the populist pressure group known as the Red Shirts. Violent attacks are reported to be launched by the group.
Prior to Monday’s bombing, smaller attacks in Bangkok attributed to Red Shirts has been carried out in February 2015. Two devices exploded at an upscale shopping mall (Siam Paragon), February 2015. No casualties reported. With the latest Bangkok bombing, Thai authorities are again pointing – albeit vaguely – against the involvement of the Red Shirts movement. This is based upon the type of explosive device commonly known as ‘pipe bomb’ which bears the hallmarks of the group in previous attacks.
South Thailand Muslim rebels
Analysts argued that, though South Thailand insurgents had never really targeted outside of Southern Thailand – there are exceptions to this. Among places outside of the traditional perimeter, which have been, bombed previously involved Hat Yai, Sadao, Betong and Sungai Golok. In December 2013, southern insurgents place a bomb – but it was not detonated in Phuket. Using these patterns of attacks, a few analysts raised the likelihood of Muslim insurgents to be involved in the Bangkok bombing.
Younger militants might also be concerned that after 12 years, the current rate of violence may not be effective and that there is a need for an escalation. Bangkok provides the most logical target. More pertinently – the evidence for the Koh Samui bombing is linked back to the Barisan Revolusi Nasional-Coordinate (BRN-C) that also bombed the Lee Gardens hotel in Hat Yai in March 2013.
However, worth noting that – the Royal Thai Army chief and deputy defence minister, General Udomdej Sitabutr, said in a televised interview that the latest bombing incident does not match with incidents in southern Thailand. “The type of bomb used is not in keeping with the south,” – General Udomdej Sitabutr.
Chinese ethnic Uighur revenge attack
The Erawan Hindu shrine is popular with Chinese tourists and this raises at least the possibility of a connection to the Uighurs – a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority in the far west of China. The ethnic group accuses the Chinese government of cultural and religious persecution. In July 2015 – more than 100 Uighurs were deported from Thailand to China – a move that prompted widespread condemnation. According to the Chinese Government, the group is on their way to Turkey, Syria or Iraq to wage holy war. Though there are violent elements in the Uighur movement, to observers – an attack on this scale outside China would be unusual.
In a nutshell:
From a short-term perspective, it will be a challenge to point to the real key suspect without more questions being raised. It seems the current political turmoil in Thailand with different actors involved will be a perfect smoke screen for the real group or individual to avoid detection for a longer period.
However, irrespective whether the attack was perpetrated by the populist Red Shirts or southern insurgents – there is a need for the junta to get into genuine effort to solved the different political issues currently faced by Thailand. It is important to note, since May 2014 the military government has spoken about reconciliation with political opponents at the same time as it has systematically disenfranchised them. There has not been a single decision or court ruling that has been in favor of the Pheu Thai or Red Shirts. Similarly in the south, the government talks about its desire for peace talks with the Muslim rebels, but it has no political will to make the necessary political concessions to end the insurgency. The military government simply expects the insurgents to give up without any agreement on political devolution, amnesty, or the protection of linguistic and cultural rights.