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Israel blames Iran for bombings in Bangkok

By Thanyarat Doksone And Todd Pitman

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 14 2012 10:16 p.m. MST

Police officers help tie up an Israeli diplomat's car that was damaged in an explosion to be pulled away by a crane to the Delhi Police' anti-terrorist cell in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012.

Associated Press

BANGKOK — Israel accused Iran of waging a covert campaign of state terror that stretched this week from the Middle East to the heart of Asia after a bungled series of explosions led to the capture of two Iranians in Bangkok.

Authorities in Israel ratcheted up security at home and abroad following Tuesday's explosions in the Thai capital, escalating a confrontation over Iran's suspect nuclear program and raising fears of war.

On Monday, an Israeli diplomat's wife and driver were wounded in New Delhi when a bomb stuck to their minivan exploded, and another device was defused on an Israeli Embassy car in Tbilisi, Georgia. Israel blamed Iran for those attacks as well.

Israel has threatened military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities, and Iran has blamed the Jewish state for the recent killings of Iranian atomic scientists.

Iran denied responsibility for the attacks in India and Georgia, which appeared to mirror the killings of the Iranian scientists that used "sticky bombs."

The series of blasts in Bangkok wounded four Thai civilians and blew off the leg of an Iranian who had fled a house carrying what looked like grenades after a cache of explosives ignited there, apparently by mistake.

When police searched the Iranians' home, the bomb squad found and defused two explosives, each made of three or four pounds of C-4 explosives inside a pair of radios, and National Police Chief Gen. Prewpan Damapong said the bombs were "magnetic" and could be stuck on vehicles.

The wounded Iranian was in police custody at a Bangkok hospital and immigration police detained a second Iranian as he tried to board a flight for Malaysia. Security forces hunted for a third Iranian suspect.

Israel's Channel 10 TV quoted unidentified Thai authorities as saying the captured Iranians confessed to targeting Israeli interests. The site of the blast is just a few miles from the Israeli Embassy.

There was no comment from Iranian officials in Tehran on Tuesday's series of explosions in Thailand.

Thai government spokeswoman Thitima Chaisaeng said "we need more analysis" to determine who was behind the attack and whether Iran was involved. She refused to comment on what the Iranians might have been planning or whether targets had been identified.

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."

Iran and Hezbollah are "unrelenting terror elements endangering the stability of the region and endangering the stability of the world," added Barak, who was in Bangkok on Sunday, according to Israel's Defense Ministry.

Added Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, in an interview with Israel Radio: "We know who carried out the terror attacks, we know who sent them, and Israel will settle the score with them."

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had thwarted attacks in recent months in Azerbaijan, Thailand and unspecified other countries. He blamed Iran and Hezbollah, both of which have deep grievances against the Jewish state.

Hezbollah battled Israel in the summer of 2006, and on Sunday, the Lebanese guerrilla group marked the anniversary of the 2008 assassination of one of its commanders, Imad Mughniyeh, in a bombing widely believed to have been carried out by Israel.

In Israel, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said security was heightened at public places, foreign embassies and offices, as well as Ben-Gurion International Airport. He said patrols have been stepped up and police were instructed to be especially vigilant.

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