A 44-year-old male taxi driver who drove the Erawan shrine bomb suspect last Monday told police the yellow-shirted suspect was a “foreigner”, an informed source said yesterday.
The taxi driver, whose name was withheld for safety reasons, told police the passenger, whom police have identified as the suspected bomber, was a foreign man in his 30s who was about 180 centimetres tall with wavy hair.
The passenger was wearing glasses with a back frame, armbands, shorts and a pair of canvas shoes with black and red stripes, the taxi driver was quoted by the source as telling police investigators during three hours of questioning late on Monday evening.
The driver also told police he suspected the passenger wanted to hide his tattoos with the armbands, said the source.
The taxi driver said he picked the suspect up at Charn Issara Tower I on Rama IV Road at between 4pm to 5pm that day. The passenger said “Hua Lamphong” in a foreign accent.
As they neared the station, the passenger told him to “stop”, using the Thai word “jod”, the cab driver told investigators.
Although he couldn’t remember how big the backpack was, the taxi driver told police he was certain it was not the same black one the suspect was seen carrying into the shrine, the source said.
The driver also told police the suspect wasn’t carrying the light-coloured bag he was seen carrying to and from the shrine on CCTV, said the source.
This piece of information led police investigators to believe the suspect might have swapped his backpack for the black one and got the light-coloured bag before he hailed a tuk-tuk to Ratchaprasong intersection to set the bomb, said the source.
Police investigators have also inspected the taxi and collected samples for DNA testing, the source said.
Another source, meanwhile, said a team of investigators from the Metropolitan Police Bureau and the Crime Suppression Division that has been checking the mobile phone usage of people before and after the shrine bombing was now focusing on three international numbers.
The team was determining who owned the numbers and whether they were connected with the bomb suspect who was seen lifting up his mobile phone as if making a call at the shrine, the source said.
Investigators also suspected the bomb might have been detonated with a mobile phone signal, according to the source.
Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, who takes over the top police job on Oct 1, said after Tuesday’s meeting of police investigators working on the blast case that TNT was likely used in both the bomb in the shrine attack and the one in the explosion near Sathon pier a day later.
Anthony Davis, a veteran security analyst with IHS-Jane’s, made a persuasive case on Monday on a panel at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand that the right-wing Turkish militant group, the Grey Wolves, was behind the Erawan blast.
He said some of the strongest evidence in favour of the ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves theory was the fury throughout Turkey that followed the Thai repatriation to China on July 9 of 109 Uighurs and the Grey Wolves’ visibility during the attacks on the Thai embassy in Istanbul.
However, the police spokesman said they have so far found no evidence that the Erawan blast was linked to any international terrorist groups, insisting the bomber could have been a foreigner or a Thai who looks like a foreigner.
“We can’t call an attack on one country by a foreigner international terrorism,” Pol Lt Gen Prawut Thavornsiri said. He added: “Admitting [it was international terrorism] means our country has become a battlefield and a target. How could a tourist destination country survive?”