Bangkok blasts were assassination attempts not terrorism, says Thai official


Andrew Buncombe
Wednesday 15 February 2012 18:26 GMT

The explosive devices belonging to three Iranians that went off in Bangkok were more likely designed for assassinating people rather than large-scale terrorism, Thai officials have revealed. They also said the devices were similar to that used to attack the wife of an Israeli diplomat in Delhi earlier in the week.

Wichean Photephosree, head of Thailand’s national security council, told reporters that despite the fear and disruption they caused, the blasts that were set off were not large enough to cause much destruction. Asked if they were similar to “sticky bomb” that was used in the India incident, Mr Wichean said they both made use of the same magnetic sheets.

“The individual was in possession of the same magnets and we are currently examining the source of the magnet,” he said, according to Reuters.

The comments of the security official helped ratchet up tension between Israel and Iran as officials in Tel Aviv repeated allegations that Iran was behind attempts to kill Israelis. Another plot, uncovered in Georgia, was foiled before it could proceed.

“If this aggression isn’t halted, ultimately it will spread to many other countries,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. Iran has denied the allegations that it is behind the attacks.

A man carrying an Iranian passport lost a leg when a bomb he was carrying in Bangkok went off yesterday after an earlier explosion, at a house he was renting with two others.

The suspect, identified as Saeid Moradi, is in stable condition in a Bangkok hospital and has been charged with illegal possession of explosives and attempted murder.

A second man, identified by Thai media as Mohummad Hazaei, was detained on yesterday evening at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport as he sought to board a flight to Malaysia. A third man, said be Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, was able to catch a flight to Kuala Lumpur and is still at large. A Thai woman who had was apparently with the men and who is reportedly the girlfriend of one of the three has also left the country.

For all the allegations being made by Israeli officials, a clear and precise picture of what the three men were intending to do has yet to appear. Police in Thailand have also not yet linked the men to Atris Hussein, a Lebanese man with suspected links to the Hezbollah militant group who was arrested by Thai police in January.

In a briefing paper, IHS Global Insights, an analysis group said: “Israel’s claim that Iran is behind not only the Bangkok attack but also the Delhi and Tbilisi incidents is circumstantially credible but there remains an absence of information, at least in the public domain, to conclusively support the accusation. The Israeli media though has already pointed to warnings from the United States embassy in Bangkok last month about the increased threat of terrorist attack following.”

Police have said that their initial investigations suggest the three men travelled to Thailand on 8 February, entering the country via the resort island of Phuket. The Bangkok Post said that Saeid Moradi, the man who lost his leg after throwing an explosive device at police, had checked into the Top Thai hotel in the town of Pattaya.

“Mr Moradi was good looking and dressed neatly, as if he was a young entrepreneur,” one member of staff told the newspaper. “He was also polite and I can't believe that he would be a bomber.”

In India, Iran’s ambassador, Seyed Mehdi Nabizadeh, denied that his government was behind the attack that left the Israeli woman seriously hurt and injured four other passers-by. “We are not accepting, we are denying this and I don't know how they can assume within a short time of one hour that to say who has done this,” he said. “It has happened in India. If India's security says something like that then we have to verify.”

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