BANGKOK (Reuters) – Police in Thailand on Wednesday arrested a woman wanted in connection with a 2015 bombing in Bangkok that killed 20 people, 14 of them foreign tourists.
The blast at a central Bangkok shrine popular with visitors from China and elsewhere in Asia raised fears of a spillover of violence from China’s western Xinjiang region, where some members of the Uighur Muslim minority oppose Beijing’s rule.
No group claimed responsibility for the blast that killed five people from mainland China and two from Hong Kong and wounded more than 120 people.
The Thai woman suspect, Wanna Suansan, 29 was arrested at Bangkok airport, said deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul. He declined to say where she had arrived from.
Wanna faced various charges including premeditated murder and co-possession of explosives and weapons, police said. She is one of 17 people wanted in connection with the bombing.
“After questioning police will send her to prosecutors,” Srivara told reporters at Bangkok’s national police headquarters.
Two ethnic Muslim Uighur men from China were accused of carrying out the bomb attack and are on trial in Thailand. They have denied all charges.
Investigators said in 2015 Wanna rented a room in Bangkok to one of those men. She fled the country shortly after the attack.
Police ruled out “terrorism”, saying the bombing was prompted by a crackdown on human smuggling networks.
But many analysts and diplomats said it was likely an act of revenge for Thailand’s deportation to China of the more than 100 Uighurs in July that year.
A relative of Wanna’s told reporters at the national police headquarters that Wanna wanted to come back to Thailand to prove her innocence.
Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Robert Birsel