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Bangkok blast hurts Iranian; Israel sees Iran link
BANGKOK (AP) — A wounded Iranian fleeing an unintended explosion at a house threw a grenade at Bangkok police that instead blew off one of his legs in a series of blasts Tuesday that Israel’s defense minister called an “attempted terrorist attack” by Iran. The violence came a day after Israel blamed Tehran for targeting its diplomats with bombs in India and Georgia.
Four other people were injured in the Bangkok explosions, which tore the roof off a house where the wounded man lived with two other compatriots. A second Iranian was arrested at Bangkok’s international airport as he was trying to leave Thailand for Malaysia and a third was being sought, police said.
The explosions in the normally peaceful Thai capital came as tensions are running high between the two Middle Eastern nations because of Israel’s threats of military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities and the recent killings of Iranian atomic scientists. Iran has blamed Israel for the assassinations, and there have been signs that Tehran might try to retaliate.
Iran denied responsibility for the bombing of an Israeli diplomatic car in New Delhi that injured four people and the foiled bombing of an Israeli diplomatic car in Tbilisi, Georgia — both on Monday. Those attacks appeared to mirror the recent killings of Iranian scientists by “sticky bombs.”
“The attempted terrorist attack in Bangkok proves once again that Iran and its proxies continue to perpetrate terror,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in Singapore. “The recent terror attacks are yet another example of this.”
Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah are “unrelenting terror elements endangering the stability of the region and endangering the stability of the world,” added Barak, who was in Bangkok on Sunday, according to Israel’s Defense Ministry.
Thai government spokeswoman Thitima Chaisaeng said “we need more analysis” to determine who was behind the attack and whether Iran was involved. She refused to comment on what the Iranian suspects might have been planning or whether targets had been identified.
Will Hartley, head of the Terrorism & Insurgency Center at IHS Jane’s in London, said the attacks in India, Georgia and Thailand “have all been highly amateurish, and lack the sophistication that would normally be expected from an operation executed by either Hezbollah or Iran’s own external operations wing, the Quds Force.”
The sequence of Tuesday’s blasts in Bangkok began when a stash of explosives apparently detonated by accident in the house occupied by the three Iranians, blowing off part of its roof.
Thai security forces found more explosives in the house, but the possible targets were not immediately known, Police Gen. Pansiri Prapawat said.
Surveillance video from after that blast showed separate images of each of the suspects walking down the middle of a residential street. One man wearing a baseball cap and a dark jacket carried a large backpack over one shoulder and what appeared to be two portable transistor radios — one in each hand.
A second suspect wearing sunglasses, a T-shirt, pants and tennis shoes also carried a backpack. The third, dressed in camouflage shorts, carried nothing.
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