Iranian embassy has confirmed authenticity of suspects’ passports, says Thai foreign ministry
The Iranian embassy in Bangkok has confirmed that two of the five suspects in the bomb blasts that struck the Thai capital Bangkok earlier this month are Iranian nationals, the Thai foreign ministry has announced.
The foreign ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said the Iranian embassy in Bangkok had verified the suspects’ nationality and the authenticity of their passports. But he added that the suspects were not working for the Islamic regime or any other Iranian organisations, the Thai news agency MCOT reported.
The Iranian government was not immediately available for comment.
The two confirmed Iranian nationals are Saeid Moradi, 28, who lost both legs when a bomb he threw at police accidentally detonated at his feet, and Mohammad Khazaei, 42, who was detained at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport while trying to flee to Malaysia.
The confirmation of the suspects’ nationality comes days after Thai police admitted they were still confused by the 50-plus “Sejeal” stickers found in 27 different locations along an expressway that stretches through the centre of the city.
Police had initially said that they were related to the explosions on 14 February, as the word Sejeal was believed to be a reference to “sejeal stones” in the Koran and the stickers were thought to have possibly demarcated an escape or bomb route to target Israeli diplomats. Authorities are now saying that the stickers are unrelated to the blasts and may have been placed throughout the city as early as autumn 2011.
Thai forensics experts are also examining a second motorcycle found abandoned in Bangkok’s Din Daeng neighbourhood, which police say was purchased by Khazaei but has not yet produced any clues. The Honda Wave discovered last Saturday – allegedly bought by third suspect, 31-year-old Masoud Sedaghatzadeh – yielded a “Sejeal” sticker underneath its seat, sparking a mystery about its origin and meaning.
Sedaghatzadeh is currently awaiting extradition to Thailand after fleeing to Malaysia.
Two other suspects involved in the Valentine’s Day blasts are still at large. Leila Rohani, who rented the Ekkamai house that partially blew up when its cache of explosives accidentally detonated, is thought to have returned to Iran. The fifth suspect, a middle-aged Middle Eastern man who was caught on CCTV leaving the house hours before it exploded, is thought to be a bomb specialist and may have also returned to Iran, authorities said.
Thai police have lately increased security in areas popular with tourists such as Khao San Road and Soi Nana, and established checkpoints to search suspicious vehicles and Middle-Eastern-owned businesses, the Bangkok Post reported.
from Kate Hodal