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Correspondents* - IPS/Al Jazeera
DOHA, Qatar, Feb 15 2012 (IPS) - Two Iranians have been arrested and charged with plotting a bomb attack in Bangkok, according to Thailand’s foreign minister.
Thai officials said on Wednesday they believed the incident in the Thai capital could be linked to recent attacks on Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia.
A man carrying an Iranian passport lost his legs and injured four other people in a Bangkok neighbourhood on Tuesday when grenades he was carrying apparently exploded by accident, police said.
Referring to the Iranians arrested in connection with the incident, Surapong Tovichakchaikul, the Thai foreign minister, said: “They are charged with causing an illegal explosion in a public area and attempting to kill police officers and members of the public.
“We cannot say yet if it’s a terrorist act, but it’s similar to the assassination attempt against a diplomat in India.”
The injured suspect, identified as Saeid Moradi, was in stable condition in a Bangkok hospital, although he remained unconscious after 10 hours of surgery, Suparung Preechayuth, a hospital surgeon, said.
Police said he had been charged with illegal possesion of explosives, causing explosions, attempted murder and assaulting a police officer. Two other men shared the rented house with him.
One person was arrested at Bangkok’s international airport on Tuesday but he has not yet been charged.
Another person was arrested on Wednesday afternoon at Kuala Lumpur airport in neighbouring Malaysia as he tried to board a flight to Tehran, Malaysian police said.
The suspect, in his thirties, had apparently evaded authorities at Bangkok airport and flown to Malaysia.
Police Inspector-General Ismail Omar said he was arrested on intelligence from Thai authorities and was being investigated for “terrorism activities” related to the Bangkok bombings.
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,” Wichian Podphosri, the secretary of Thailand’s National Security Council, said.
In the Bangkok attack, one explosive device went off in the bomber’s home. Another was thrown at a taxi that would not take one of the men who left the house following the explosion.
The third blew off the man’s leg when he tried to throw it at police and it either went off before he could throw it or it hit something and ricocheted back at him.
Reacting to the latest developments, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, accused Iran of targeting diplomats, saying that if the world did not stop Iran’s “aggression”, the attacks would spread.
“It harms innocent diplomats in many countries and the nations of the world must condemn Iran’s terror actions and demarcate red lines against Iranian aggression,” he said.
“If such aggression is not stopped it will spread to many countries.”
Iran has denied any involvement in the blasts, saying Israel often made such accusations.
Iranian state TV quoted Ramin Mehmanparast, the country’s foreign ministry spokesman, as saying that Israel was behind the explosions.
“The main goal of the Zionist regime is to conceal its real essence in carrying out terrorist acts particularly assassinating Iran’s scientists,” the state news agency IRNA quoted Mehmanparast as saying.
“We are not accepting, we are denying this and I don’t know how they (the Israelis) can assume within a short time of one hour that to say who has done this,” Iran’s ambassador to India, Seyed Mehdi Nabizadeh, said, referring to the New Delhi attack.
“It has happened in India. If India’s security says something like that, then we have to verify.”
India ‘lacks evidence’
India said it did not have enough evidence to reach a firm conclusion.
“The Indian government does not have any evidence pointing to any individual, entity, organisation or country being involved in Monday’s blast, so far,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.
The attack on an Israeli diplomatic car in the Indian capital left a female diplomat and three other people injured.
Police in Georgia said they had thwarted on an Israeli diplomatic vehicle on the same day.
Russia has condemned the bomb attacks and called on both countries to investigate but did not accuse Iran or any other country of involvement.
Russia “decisively condemns these attacks by extremists”, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
“We are convinced there can be no justification for terrorism in all its forms.”
*Published under an agreement with Al Jazeera.
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