Bangkok Blast Wounds Iranian Attacker, 4 Others

Published February 14, 2012 3:18PM (EST)

BANGKOK (AP) — An Iranian man carrying grenades blew off his own legs and wounded four civilians in Bangkok on Tuesday after an earlier blast shook his rented house, authorities said. Israel's defense minister accused Iran of being behind the violence.

The blasts came a day after an Israeli diplomatic car was bombed in India — an attack Israel also blamed on Iran.

Thai security forces found more explosives in the house where the Iranian man was staying in Bangkok, but the possible targets were not immediately known, Police Gen. Pansiri Prapawat said.

Pansiri said a passport found at the scene of one of the blasts in Bangkok indicated the assailant was Saeid Moradi from Iran. Tehran did not immediately comment.

Iran has denied responsibility for the India attack Monday, as well as a foiled bombing of an Israeli diplomatic car in Georgia, which appeared to mirror the recent "sticky bomb" killings of Iranian nuclear scientists that Tehran has blamed on Israel.

Israeli police raised their state of alert throughout the country following the attacks Monday. Officials predicted those attacks were just the first in a wave of assaults on Israeli targets worldwide by Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.

The bombings have ratcheted already high tensions between Tehran and the Jewish state over Iran's nuclear program. Israel doesn't believe Iran's claims that it aims to produce electricity, not bombs, and its threats of a possible military strike have grown more ominous in recent weeks.

In Thailand, Tuesday's bizarre sequence of explosions appear to have begun when a stash of explosives detonated by accident in a Bangkok house occupied by three Iranians. The explosion blew off part the roof, and two of the men quickly left the residence.

A third man identified as Saeid Moradi was seriously wounded and left the residence shortly afterward, police Gen. Pansiri Prapawat said.

"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 that hit the taxi and damaged it and began running.

Police who had been called to the area after the first blast then tried to apprehend Moradi, who hurled a grenade at them to defend himself. "But somehow it bounced back" and blew off his legs, Pansiri said.

Photos of the wounded Moradi showed him covered in dark soot on a sidewalk strewn with broken glass. He lay in front of a Thai primary and secondary school, head raised as if he was attempting to sit up or look around.

Police told reporters later said that security forces at Bangkok's international airport detained a second Iranian — identified him as Mohummad Hazaei — as he tried to board a flight for Malaysia. They said he was one of the three in the house where explosives first went off.

They said a third Iranian — believed wounded in that initial explosion — was also on the run.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the violence in Bangkok "proves once again that Iran and its proxies continue to perpetrate terror."

He said that Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah are "unrelenting terror elements endangering the stability of the region and endangering the stability of the world."

Barak spoke during an official visit in Singapore. A statement issued by the Israeli Defense Ministry noted Barak was in Bangkok on Sunday.

In India, investigators were searching for what they called a well-trained motorcycle assailant who stuck a magnet bomb on an Israeli diplomatic car in New Delhi, wounding four people Monday.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra called on people "not to panic" after Tuesday's explosions and said the situation was under control.

Three Thai men and one Thai woman were brought to Kluaynamthai Hospital for treatment of injuries suffered in the explosions, said Suwinai Busarakamwong, a doctor there.

Last month, a Lebanese-Swedish man with alleged links to pro-Iranian Hezbollah militants was detained by Thai police. He led authorities to a warehouse filled with more than 8,800 pounds (4,000 kilograms) of urea fertilizer and several gallons of liquid ammonium nitrate.

Israel and the United States at the time warned their citizens to be alert in the capital.

Pansiri said 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 indicated he flew into Thailand from Seoul, South Korea on Feb. 8, Pansiri said. He landed at the southern Thai resort town of Phuket, then stayed in a hotel in Chonburi, a couple hours drive southeast of Bangkok, for several nights.

Pansiri said a bomb disposal unit checked a dark satchel near the spot where Moradi was wounded, and police found Iranian currency, US dollars and Thai money in the bag.

Thailand has rarely been a target for foreign terrorists, although a domestic Muslim insurgency in the country's south has involved bombings of civilian targets.

The Bangkok blasts — the day after bombs targeted Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia — raised worry that a fast-escalating proxy war between Iran and Israel might spread.

Iran has accused the Israelis of being behind a series of assassinations of nuclear scientists and other sabotage of its nuclear program. Israel, like the West, believes Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.


Associated Press writers Jocelyn Gecker in Bangkok and Amy Teibel in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

By Salon Staff

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