New Delhi calls bombing a “terrorist attack” but declines to attribute blame, as Israel accuses Iran and Hezbollah.
|Police and forensic experts investigate the site in Bangkok where one of Tuesday’s explosions occurred [Reuters]|
An Iranian man carrying grenades has blown off his own legs and wounded four civilians after multiple blasts in a busy Bangkok neighbourhood, Thai officials say.
Security forces found more explosives in the Thai capital on Tuesday in a house where the Iranian man was staying, but it was not known what targets they might have been meant for, police General Pansiri Prapawat said.
He said a passport found at the scene of one of the blasts indicated that the assailant was Saeid Moradi from Iran. Authorities in Tehran could not immediately be reached for comment.
Tuesday’s violence began in the afternoon when a stash of explosives apparently went off by accident in Moradi’s house, blowing off part of the roof.
Police said two foreigners quickly left the residence, followed by a wounded Moradi.
“He tried to wave down a taxi, but he was covered in blood, and the driver refused to take him,” Pansiri said. He then threw an explosive at the taxi and began running.
Police who had been called to the area then tried to apprehend Moradi, who hurled a grenade to defend himself. “But somehow it bounced back” and blew off his legs, Pansiri said.
Photos of the wounded Iranian showed him covered in dark soot on a pavement strewn with broken glass. He lay in front of a Thai primary and secondary school. No students were reported wounded.
Iranian currency found
A dark satchel nearby was investigated by a bomb-disposal unit. Pansiri said police found Iranian currency, US dollars and Thai money in the bag.
Three Thai men and one Thai woman were brought to Kluaynamthai Hospital for treatment of injuries, Suwinai Busarakamwong, a doctor at the hospital, said.
Another Iranian was being detained at Bangkok’s international airport after he attempted to depart for neighbouring Malaysia, Thai police Commander Winai Thongsong said.
Authorities were interrogating the man, but it was not yet known whether he was involved in Tuesday’s blasts.
Last month, a Lebanese-Swedish man with alleged links to Hezbollah, the Iran-backed armed Lebanese group, was detained by Thai police. He led authorities to a warehouse filled with more than 4,000kg of urea fertiliser and several gallons of liquid ammonium nitrate.
Israel and the US at the time warned their citizens to be alert in Bangkok, but Thai authorities said the country appeared to have been a staging ground but not the target of any attack.
Pansiri, of the Thai police, said on Tuesday that “so far, we haven’t found any links between these two cases”.
Immigration police are trying to trace Moradi’s movements, but initial reports indicate he flew into Thailand from Seoul, South Korea, on February 8, Pansiri said.
Moradi landed at the southern Thai resort town of Phuket, then stayed in a hotel in Chonburi, a couple-of-hours drive southeast of Bangkok, for several nights.
In Jerusalem, Yigal Palmor, the Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, said there was not yet any sign that any targets in Bangkok were Israeli or Jewish.
Nevertheless, Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, who was visiting Singapore on Tuesday, said: “The attempted terrorist attack in Bangkok proves once again that Iran and its proxies continue to perpetrate terror. The recent terror attacks are yet another example of this.”
Barak, who had spent a few hours in Bangkok on Sunday, alleged that “Iran and Hezbollah are unrelenting terror elements endangering the stability of the region, and endangering the stability of the world”.
It was unclear whether the Bangkok explosions were linked to the attacks in India and Georgia, but Iran has denied it was responsible.
Thailand has rarely been a target for foreign terrorists, although a domestic Muslim uprising in the country’s south has involved bombings of civilian targets.