|The alleged Iranian plot has succeeded only in wounding the wife of a diplomat in New Delhi [REUTERS]|
Authorities in Thailand are looking for two more suspects in an apparent plot to bomb Israeli targets there, after announcing that three men already arrested had been seen cavorting with prostitutes on a beach resort.
The two missing individuals include a possible explosives specialist who may have been training the Iranians, Thai authorities said on Friday.
The foiled bomb plot was discovered on Tuesday when explosives in the men’s rented house blew up by mistake, forcing them to flee. Two were detained in Bangkok, and a third was captured Wednesday in neighbouring Malaysia as he reportedly tried to return to Iran.
Thai police say the men were targeting Israeli diplomats.
Bangkok police commissioner Winai Thongsong said a man had been seen early on Tuesday on closed circuit camera footage as he left the same house where the accidental explosion later took place.
Winai said the newest suspect was 52 years old and of Middle Eastern descent, but gave no other details and did not give his nationality.
He said police also are looking for an additional suspect who had rented the destroyed home with an Iranian woman named Leila Rohani, who is now believed to be back in Tehran.
Suspects ‘partied in Pattaya’
After flying into the southern city of Phuket on February 8, the men moved to Pattaya and stayed there for at least two nights before heading to Bangkok.
Located 70km southeast of the Thai capital, Pattaya is particularly notorious for its sex industry.
The Iranians hung out with several female sex workers during their stay there, and one of the women was brought to Bangkok to identify the suspects on Thursday, said Noppon Kuldiloke, a senior immigration police investigator in southern Thailand.
A mobile phone image taken by one of the women, published by the Bangkok Post with an article headlined “Suspects partied in Pattaya,” purportedly showed the three Iranians at a Middle Eastern bar or restaurant surrounded by hookah water-pipes, two of them cradling women in their arms.
The woman who took the image said one of the now-detained suspects, Mohammad Kharzei, had asked her to escort him “because he was not good at speaking English,” according to the Post.
She said she brought two companions for Kharzei’s friends, and they had drinks and played snooker together. The woman detected nothing awry, except when one of the men “barred her from approaching a closet” in his hotel room, the newspaper reported.
The botched plot has ratcheted up tensions between Iran and Israel, which is accusing Iran of waging a covert campaign of state terror that included a bombing Monday in New Delhi that tore through an Israeli diplomatic vehicle, wounding an Israeli diplomat’s wife and driver, and a failed bomb attempt the same day in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
Iran has denied responsibility for all three bomb plots, and blames Israel for the recent killings of Iranian atomic scientists.
Thailand’s national police chief said Thursday that the detained Iranians were plotting to attack Israeli diplomats, citing the similarity of so-called “sticky” bombs that can be attached magnetically that were used in New Delhi and Tbilisi.