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Terrorism suspect leads Thai police to potential bomb materials

From Kocha Olarn, CNN
updated 6:54 AM EST, Mon January 16, 2012
A Lebanese terror suspect in Thailand have led police to a site containing potential bomb materials
A Lebanese terror suspect in Thailand have led police to a site containing potential bomb materials
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bomb experts find 'initial chemical materials' in a building
  • They are led there by a Lebanese terror suspect
  • The U.S. and Israel have warned citizens of possible terrorist attacks in Bangkok
  • Thai police are still looking for another suspect

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- The Thai government said Monday that it had found the basic ingredients for explosive devices in a building in central Thailand, just days after the United States and Israel warned their citizens in Bangkok of the possibility of an imminent terrorist attack.

A team of bomb experts and forensic police officers "found initial chemical materials that could produce bombs" in Samutsakorn, southwest of Bangkok, said Thitima Chaisaeng, a spokeswoman for the Thai government.

The team was led to the location by a Lebanese terror suspect who is accused of trying to attack spots in Bangkok that are popular with Western tourists, Thitima said.

The Thai government said the terror suspect is believed to belong to Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim group active in Lebanon that the United States views as a terrorist organization.

The United States had passed information to Thai authorities that caused the Thai government to be on high alert and to look for suspect, the Thai government said Friday.

The Thai authorities said Sunday they were still looking for another suspect of Middle Eastern origin, providing a sketch of his face.

The materials found Monday included 400 boxes of fertilizers weighing a total of more than 4,000 kilograms and 1,500 liters of liquid ammonia nitrate, together with 400 electric fans, according to CNN affiliate MCOT.

They were found in a shop house, a type of store common in Southeast Asia that gives onto the sidewalk and also serves as the owner's residence.

Based on comments from the Lebanese suspect, "Thailand is only a transit point to send these initial explosive materials to other regional countries," said Police General Priewpan Damapong.

A U.S. Embassy statement on Friday spoke of "foreign terrorists" who may be planning attacks "in the near future." It urged U.S. citizens to exercise caution when visiting public areas where large groups of Western tourists gather in Bangkok. Israel issued a similar alert later Friday.

Thailand is a highly popular tourist destination, and Bangkok serves as a major transport hub for the Southeast Asian region.

Thailand has undergone periods of unrest in recent years. It experienced a spate of political violence during anti-government demonstrations in 2010.

And Muslim separatists in southern Thailand have long battled government forces in a country that is overwhelmingly Buddhist, with a number of bombings taking place last year.

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