Police in Bangkok were last night scrambling to unravel an apparent Middle East terror plot after an Iranian man blew off his legs and injured several bystanders as a series of explosions rocked the city.
A day after an Israeli diplomat was injured in a bomb attack in Delhi and another attempt was foiled in Georgia – incidents Israel blamed on Iran – police in the Thai capital were called to a property where an explosion badly damaged the roof. Reports said three men, all said to be Iranian, fled the scene.
Last night, there was no immediate response from Iran – which has denied any involvement in Monday's attacks – to the incident in Thailand, but Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak was quick to point the finger. "The attempted terrorist attack in Bangkok proves once again that Iran and its proxies continue to perpetrate terror," Mr Barak said on a visit to Singapore, without offering any evidence. "Iran and Hezbollah are endangering the stability of the region, and the world."
Israel's Internal Security Minister, meanwhile, did not name Iran but hinted at revenge. "We know who carried out the terror attacks, we know who sent them, and Israel will settle the score with them," Yitzhak Aharonovitch said on Israel Radio.
Yesterday, one of the men attempting to flee the scene in Bangkok tried to stop a passing taxi, according to reports. But when it refused to stop for him, he reportedly threw a small explosive device at the car and another at advancing police. While the car was damaged, the second device apparently bounced off a tree and hit the man. His legs were said to have been torn off by the subsequent blast.
"The police have control of the situation. It is thought that the suspect might be storing more explosives inside his house," a Thai government spokeswoman Thitima Chaisaeng told reporters, according to Reuters.
Police later said they had apprehended another suspect at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport. He had been trying to board an Air Asia flight to Malaysia. The authorities are still searching for another man.
The man who lost his legs was identified as Saeid Moradi, who entered Thailand through the resort of Phuket on 8 February, having travelled from Seoul, South Korea. "We discovered the injured man's passport. It's an Iranian passport," Bansiri Prapapat, a police official, said. Photos of the critically injured man showed him on a pavement close to a school. A satchel nearby was investigated by a bomb disposal unit.
Despite Israel's claims about the three bombings in Bangkok, police in Thailand did not make any immediate link between yesterday's incident and the arrest last month of a Lebanese man in Bangkok, said to have links to Hezbollah. At least four people were hurt in yesterday's blasts. Police said they uncovered more explosives and a cache of timing devices at the house the men had been renting.
In Delhi, where the wife of an Israeli diplomat was injured in a bomb attack on Monday, police claimed the strike was carried out by a well-trained individual. Israeli authorities are to help Indian officials investigate the attack. P Chidambaram, the Home Minister, said: "There is reason to believe that the target was the diplomat's wife."