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Thai police say Bangkok bomber linked to 'network' of plotter

Thai police broadened their hunt yesterday for the suspected Bangkok bomber, issuing a police sketch of the man sought in a huge manhunt, and suggested he was part of a wider network.

The police drawing offered the clearest image of the suspect -- previously identified through grainy close-ups taken from surveillance camera video shortly before Monday's attack in the heart of Bangkok's tourist and shopping district. The explosion left 20 people dead and more than 120 injured.

The sketch showed a young man in glasses with bushy, dark hair cut shorter on the sides. The picture was also partly based on a description provided by a motorcycle taxi driver who believed he gave the suspect a ride on the night of the blast.

Police said the suspect's possible background was unclear. The arrest warrant described him as a "foreign man," but the police spokesman, Lt. Gen. Prawut Thavornsiri, said the suspect could be of "mixed origin."

Authorities also left open the theory he disguised his appearance before the bombing.

Meanwhile, the police chief, Somyot Poompanmoung, indicated that the probe was looking for links to other plotters. "He didn't do it alone, for sure. It's a network," Somyot said.

The police spokesman Prawut said the security footage appeared to show two possible accomplices.

Authorities have claimed the bombing was an attempt to strike a blow against Thailand's vital tourism industry.

No group has claimed responsibility, but Thailand has multiple flash points, including deep political rivalries and a Muslim insurgency that has waged sporadic attacks in the past in Thailand's southern regions.

Thai police offered a reward equivalent to $28,000 for tips that would lead to the suspect's arrest.

The bombing claimed at least four clan members of a Malaysian family who had been enjoying a Thai vacation. Seven members of the family had traveled by train Saturday from Butterworth on northern Malaysia's Penang island to the Thai beach resort city of Hua Hin, and arrived Monday in Bangkok.

Neoh Ee Ling, 33, who is five months pregnant, was not injured in the bombing, and her father, Neoh Hock Guan, 53, reportedly suffered minor injuries. But four other family members, including Ee Ling's 4-year-old daughter, are confirmed dead, and a fifth is presumed to have died. With AP


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