Thai Police: 3rd Iranian Involved In Blasts Fled

Published February 15, 2012 8:00AM (EST)

BANGKOK (AP) — Police in Thailand say the third Iranian suspect involved in a series of blasts in Bangkok has escaped into Malaysia.

Immigration police chief Lt. Gen. Wiboon Bangthamai identified the third suspect as Zedhaghat Zadech Masoud.

Wiboon said Wednesday that Masoud boarded a flight from Bangkok's international airport on Tuesday night and arrived in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

He says Masoud is still believed to be in Malaysia.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BANGKOK (AP) — The bombs discovered in a Bangkok house after a series of blasts in the Thai capital were similar to the devices used against Israeli Embassy targets in India and Georgia, the Israeli ambassador said Wednesday.

While the targets of the bombs was not clear, "we can assume from the other experiences that we were the target," Ambassador Itzhak Shoham told The Associated Press.

Thai police found and defused two magnetic bombs that could be stuck on vehicles after Tuesday' blasts, he said.

"They are similar to the ones used in Delhi and in Tbilisi," Shoham said. "From that we can assume that there is the same network of terror."

Israel has accused Iran of waging a covert campaign of state terror.

Shoham said the arrest of two Iranians in the blasts "again leaves not too much room to assume who was behind it."

A bombing of an Israeli diplomatic car in New Delhi on Monday injured four people, including a diplomat's wife. A similar bomb found under a car in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Monday was defused.

Four Thai civilians were wounded in Bangkok in a series of blasts that began when a cache of explosives ignited at a house, apparently by mistake. One explosion blew off the leg of an Iranian who had fled, carrying what looked like grenades.

A day after the blasts in a residential neighborhood, Thai authorities said they were still investigating possible links. Top security agencies called a news conference Wednesday in which authorities admitted to being caught by surprise and said they had little information about who the alleged attackers were and their possible targets.

National Security Council chief Wichean Potephosree said authorities had not determined if there was any link between the explosions in Bangkok and the events in New Delhi and Tbilisi.

"We haven't found any links but we are still investigating," Wichean said. "We admit there was magnetic component, aiming at individuals, but the origin of the magnets still has to be investigated."

When police searched the house, the bomb squad found and defused two explosives, each made of three or four pounds of C-4 explosives inside a pair of radios.

Wichean said that the types of explosives found suggested that individuals were being targeted.

"From the investigation, we found the type of explosives indicated that the prepared targets were individuals," Wichean said. "Based on the equipment and materials we found, they were aimed at individuals and the destruction capacity was not intended for large crowds or big buildings."

The wounded Iranian was in police custody at a Bangkok hospital. Immigration police detained a second Iranian as he tried to board a flight for Malaysia.

Both men were facing four charges, including possession of explosives, attempted murder, attempted murder of a policeman and causing explosions that damaged property, Prewpan said.

Security forces were searching for a third Iranian suspect.

Israel's Channel 10 TV quoted unidentified Thai authorities as saying the captured Iranians confessed to targeting Israeli interests.

There was no comment from Iranian officials in Tehran.

There seemed to be no doubt in the minds of Israeli officials, who blamed Iran and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah.

"The attempted terrorist attack in Bangkok proves once again that Iran and its proxies continue to perpetrate terror," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in Singapore. "The recent terror attacks are yet another example of this."


Associated Press writers Ravi Nessman in New Delhi and Jocelyn Gecker in Bangkok contributed to this report.

By Salon Staff

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