Bangkok blasts wound Iranian attacker, 4 others

Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) — An Iranian man carrying grenades blew off his own legs and wounded four civilians Tuesday after an earlier blast shook his house in Bangkok, Thai authorities said. The explosions came a day after an Israeli diplomatic car was bombed in India — an attack Israel blamed on Iran.

Authorities say it's unclear whether the Bangkok explosions were linked to the New Delhi attack, but Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, "we can't rule out any possibility."

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

A passport found at the scene of one blast indicated the assailant was Saeid Moradi from Iran, Pansiri said. Authorities in Tehran could not immediately be reached for comment.

Tuesday's violence began in the afternoon when a stash of explosives apparently detonated by accident in Moradi's house, blowing off part of the roof. Police said two foreigners quickly left the residence, followed by a wounded Moradi.

"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 at the taxi and began running.

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

Photos of the wounded Iranian showed him covered in dark soot on a sidewalk strewn with broken glass. He lay in front of a Thai primary and secondary school. No students were reported wounded.

 

A dark satchel nearby was investigated by a bomb disposal unit. Pansiri said police found Iranian currency, US dollars and Thai money in the bag.

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

Another Iranian was detained Tuesday night at Bangkok's international airport as he attempted to leave for neighboring Malaysia, said police commander Winai Thongsong. Authorities were interrogating the man, but it was not yet known whether he was involved in Tuesday's blasts.

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, but Thai authorities said Thailand appeared to have been a staging ground but not the target of any attack.

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.

Bangkok's blasts came one day after bombs targeted Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia. The attack in India wounded four people, while the device found in Georgia did not explode. Iran has denied it was responsible.

In Jerusalem, 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, emphasizing public places, foreign embassies and offices, as well as Ben-Gurion International Airport.

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.

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

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