BANGKOK / TEHRAN: Thai investigators believe they have found a link between this week’s bomb blasts in Bangkok and New Delhi, a senior security official said on Wednesday, two of three botched attacks Israel has blamed on Iran.
Asked whether the explosives used in India and Thailand were the same, a senior Thai security official said they both had the same “magnetic sheets”.
“The individual was in possession of the same magnets and we are currently examining the source of the magnet,” National Security Council Secretary Wichian Podphosri said.
Meanwhile, the American, British and Australian embassies in Bangkok told their citizens to be vigilant in light of the explosions but did not advise against travel to the capital.
Thailand charges two Iranian bomb suspects
Thailand has charged two Iranian bomb suspects in connection with a failed plot in Bangkok, a Thai government minister said on Wednesday.
“They are charged with causing an illegal explosion in a public area and attempting to kill police officers and members of the public,” Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul told reporters.
Israel’s ambassador to Bangkok had said on Wednesday that Iranian suspects behind the bomb plot were “part of the same network” as assailants who targeted Israeli embassy staff in India and Georgia.
Itzhak Shoham said there appeared to be a close link between bombings in three world capitals in less than 24 hours, suggesting that the perpetrators in Thailand had been trying to assassinate Israeli diplomats.
“This is what we were concerned about … that the targets were the Israelis – same system, same explosive, and part of the same network,” he told AFP.
Reacting to information from a senior Thai intelligence official that he and other Israeli diplomats were the target of a bomb plot, Shoham said he was happy that the attempt failed. But he added: “It doesn’t mean that everything is finished, but we hope we are on the right path.” He repeated the Israeli government accusation that Iran was behind the bombings.
The ambassador said authorities had been alert to a threat since police last month charged a Lebanese man suspected of planning a strike following a US warning that tourist areas might be targeted.
Thai authorities alleged the Lebanese man had links to Hezbollah, an Iranian- and Syrian-backed Muslim Shia group that is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Washington. “There were kinds of warnings, but if they are related or not is up to the police and authorities here to establish,” Shoham said.
Iran denies link with Bangkok blasts, accuses Israel
Iran denied any link with explosions in Bangkok and accused “elements linked with the (Israeli) Zionist regime” of being responsible, state TV said on its website on Wednesday.
Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast rejected “the accusations by the Zionist regime of implication (of Iran)”, accusing Israel of “trying to harm the friendly and historic relations between Iran and Thailand”.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that elements of the Zionist regime are responsible for this crime and is prepared to help and cooperate with the Thai government to shed all light on these events,” he added.
Mehmanparast noted that Israel’s accusation followed US allegations last October of a Tehran-hatched plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, and Israeli claims Tehran was behind bomb attempts against Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia on Monday. He termed both those other accusations “baseless”.
Israel PM blames Iran
Thai authorities were holding two Iranians in connection with a series of explosions in Bangkok on Tuesday.
One of the men, named as 28-year-old Saeid Morati according to a passport found in his possession, lost both his legs when he tried to hurl an explosive device at Thai police while fleeing an earlier blast at a house in Bangkok.
The other Iranian was detained as he tried to board a flight out of Thailand. A third suspect was believed to have fled to Malaysia.
Israel saw the detention of the Iranian nationals as proof of the Iranian government’s involvement.
“The attempted attack in Bangkok proves once again that Iran and its proxies are continuing to act in the ways of terror and the latest attacks are an example of that,” Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said.
Israel blamed Iran for an attempt on an Israeli diplomat in New Delhi, who was critically wounded along with her Indian driver when a motorbike assailant attached a bomb to her car on Monday. It also said a thwarted, similar attempt to blow up an Israeli diplomatic vehicle in Georgia had Iran’s fingerprints on it.
Iran denied any connection to those attacks.
Observers, however, noted that the use of motorbike assassins to blow up targets’ cars closely mirrored the method used to murder nuclear scientists in Iran in the past two years, raising the possibility of Iranian payback and a vicious covert war between the Middle East foes.
A senior Thai intelligence official told AFP on condition of anonymity that the three Iranian suspects linked to the Bangkok blasts were “an assassination team and their targets were Israeli diplomats including the ambassador.”
He added: “Their plan was to attach bombs to diplomats’ cars.”
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