2nd Iranian linked to Thai bombing held

2012-02-15 09:00
Bangkok - Police arrested an Iranian national at Bangkok's airport after linking him with three explosions in the Thai capital and were searching for a third suspect on Wednesday.

The defence minister, Air Chief Marshal Sukhumpol Suwannathat, insisted on Wednesday that the explosions were not acts of terrorism but failed to provide an explanation for Tuesday's bombing spree, which ended with one Iranian blowing off his own legs.

Police arrested Mohammad Hazai, aged 42, at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday evening as he was about to board a flight to Kuala Lumpur.

Hazai had been identified by surveillance cameras as one of three Iranians staying at a rented house in Bangkok where a bomb was detonated on Tuesday afternoon, authorities said. After the blast, Hazai and another suspect fled the scene, they said.

Police were still searching for the other suspect who left the house, where, officers said, C-4 plastic explosives were found.

A third man, identified as Iranian national Saeib Morabi, ran from the house and tried to hail a taxi.

Travel warnings

When taxis refused to stop for him, he hurled a grenade at one of them, injuring the driver and three pedestrians, authorities said.

The man fled but was followed by a police car. Police said he threw another grenade at the police car but it bounced off a pickup and blew up next to him, severing both his legs.

The explosions prompted the US and British embassies to reissue travel warnings to their citizens visiting Bangkok that had been recently dropped.

Last month, the US and 10 other embassies issued travel warnings after being informed of planned terrorist attacks on American and Israeli citizens in Bangkok.

On January 16, Thai police found 400 boxes of the bombmaking materials urea and ammonium nitrate in a shophouse believed to be linked to the plot to carry out the attacks.

Police said they were alerted to the cache by Attis Hussein, a Swedish-Lebanese man arrested days after the US embassy travel alert on suspicion of being a member of the Hezbollah militant group.

Possible links

Thai authorities have a mixed policy of promoting the country as a tourist destination for all and maintaining security.

"There has been a significant increase in Iranian tourists visiting Thailand last year," said a Thai diplomat who asked to remain anonymous.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Wednesday that a senior security official said Thai investigators were examining a possible link between explosions in Bangkok and bomb attacks targeting Israeli embassy staff in India and Georgia this week.

The three explosions in Bangkok came a day after bomb attacks in India and Georgia. Israel accused Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of being behind those attacks. Iran denied involvement.

After a meeting of top Thai security officials, National Security Council Secretary Wichian Podphosri told reporters that a magnet found among the material looked similar to ones used in the Indian bombing and in the device defused in Georgia.

Read more on:    georgia  |  iran  |  israel  |  thailand  |  india  |  security

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