Uighur 'tied' to Erawan shrine blast

Uighur 'tied' to Erawan shrine blast

Jakarta: An ethnic Uighur arrested in a counterterrorism raid outside the Indonesian capital on Wednesday may also be linked to the bombing of the Erawan shrine in Bangkok in August, police said on Thursday.

The suspect, identified only as Ali and picked up in Bekasi, on the eastern outskirts of Jakarta, might have been involved in the bombing of the shrine at Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok, they said.

The blast took place on Aug 17, killing 20 people, mostly Chinese tourists and injuring 130 others. The following day another bomb exploded in a canal by Sathon pier. No one was injured in that blast.

Thai police had earlier disclosed that one of the key suspects in August's deadly Bangkok shrine bombing was named Ali and he had fled the country shortly after the blast.

Operatives from Densus 88, the National Police counterterrorism squad, were led to Mr Ali following their arrest of an Indonesian national identified as Arif Hidyatulloh, also known as Abu Muzab, as he was leaving his house in Bekasi on Wednesday morning. 

A source at Densus, who asked not to be named, said Mr Ali was believed to have entered Indonesia through Batam two months earlier, on the pretext of being an asylum seeker, with two compatriots who remain at large. Prior to that, they were believed to have been in Thailand and Malaysia.

The source said investigators were looking into the possibility that Mr Ali might have links to the bombing at the Erawan shrine.

The two other Uighurs still at large, have reportedly fled with bomb-making equipment.

In Thailand, Pol Maj Gen Apichart Suribunya, commander of the Foreign Affairs Division, told the Bangkok Post he will contact Interpol in Indonesia to examine the report.

Mr Arif was also found to have a bomb-making manual and lists of jailed Indonesian terrorists as well as Indonesians believed to have gone to Syria to join the Sunni militant group Islamic State.

Mr Arif subsequently provided information that led Densus to Mr Ali's boarding house in another part of Bekasi.

Police have not yet been able to confirm Mr Ali's full identity because he had no passport.

National police chief Badrodin Haiti said Mr Ali was being prepared as a "groom" -- a police term for suicide bomber.

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