Feb
14

Iran behind Thailand bombings, Ehud Barak claims

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Israeli defence minister says two blasts in Bangkok ‘prove Iran continues to perpetrate terror’

The Israeli defence minister has accused Iran of being behind a bungled bombing in Thailand.

An Iranian man blew off one of his legs and injured at least four other people in one of two explosions that happened in the capital, Bangkok.

Speaking during an official trip to Singapore, Ehud Barak said the attack “proves once again that Iran and its proxies continue to perpetrate terror”. He claimed Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah were “unrelenting terror elements endangering the stability of the region and endangering the stability of the world”.

A statement from the Israeli defence ministry said Barak had been in Bangkok on Sunday.

The target of the Bangkok blasts remains unclear. They happened a day after two bomb attacks aimed at Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia.

Israel said Iran was to blame for the bombings in India and Georgia – a claim denounced by Tehran as “sheer lies”.

Thai security forces found more explosives in the suspect’s rented house in the capital, the police’s General Pansiri Prapawat told reporters.

Police said the explosions happened on Soi Sukhumvit 71, a street running off a busy road that bisects the capital.

A photo posted on Twitter showed a wounded man lying on a pavement outside a school, one of his legs blown off by an explosion. The pavement was strewn with broken glass.

Several Thai television stations reported that the man had been carrying explosives. They said an identification card found in a nearby satchel indicated he was of Iranian descent.

The Thai-Asean News network said police had identified the man as Sayed Murabi, an Iranian. He is thought to have set off a bomb at his own house and then hailed a taxi.

When the driver refused to pick him up, Murabi reportedly threw a grenade at the car. Police then pursued him before he tried to throw another grenade at them, but failed and blew off his own leg.

The first explosion happened at about 2.20pm local time (7.20am GMT) at a house in the Ekamai area of central Bangkok, which three Iranians reportedly rented.

Police fear there may be more bombs in the area and have closed the street to traffic.

Doctors at the Chulalongkorn hospital confirmed that a man had been admitted as a patient, but did not disclose his name or nationality.

Doctors said the patient’s right leg had been blown off above the knee, and his left leg was so badly damaged that it had had to be amputated above the knee.

Local media reported police as saying one of the bomber’s legs had been blown into the grounds of a nearby school.

Reports said security was being boosted at the hospital, with police unsure whether or not to classify the man as a terrorist.

In Jerusalem, the Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, said there was not yet any sign that any targets in Bangkok were Israeli or Jewish.

Israeli police have increased the state of alert in the country, with the emphasis on public places, foreign embassies and offices, as well as Ben-Gurion international airport.

Kate Hodal

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