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Bangkok blasts wound Iranian attacker, 4 others

A suspected Iranian man is severely injured in Thailand after a grenade explodes on a Bangkok street. Msnbc's Chris Jansing reports the incident could escalate tensions between Israel and Iran, whom Israel accuses of several assassination attempts on its citizens.

BANGKOK -- 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 said it's unclear whether the Bangkok explosions were linked to the New Delhi attack, but in Jerusalem 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.

PhotoBlog: Graphic photo of bomb scene

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.

EPA

A member of Thailand's explosives disposal unit inspects the scene of a bomb blast that injured a man thought to be Iranian on a roadside in Bangkok Tuesday.

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 motorcycle taxi driver who arrived on the scene shortly after the explosion said he saw the man identified as Moradi lying on the ground with his leg blown off.

"Luckily school hadn't finished yet, otherwise there would be more injuries," Dechchart Puangket told NBC News.

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.

The blasts came a day after bomb attacks targeted Israeli embassy staff in India and Georgia. Israel accused Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of being behind those attacks. Hezbollah is a Shiite Islamist group backed by Syria and Iran that is on the official U.S. blacklist of foreign terrorist organizations.

An Israeli official told news website Ynet that the Bangkok explosions appeared to be a "bombing gone wrong." 

Second Iranian detained
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.

Kerek Wongsa / Reuters

Tuesday's violence began when a stash of explosives apparently detonated by accident in a Bangkok house, blowing off part of the roof.

While Thai officials declined to speculate on whether the two men they had detained were involved with any militant group,

Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak blamed Iran.

"The attempted terrorist attack in Bangkok proves once again that Iran and its proxies continue to perpetrate terror,'' Barak said on a visit to Singapore.

"Iran and Hezbollah are unrelenting terror elements endangering the stability of the region, and endangering the stability of the world,'' said Barak, who spent a few hours in Bangkok on Sunday.

Israel accuses Iran of bombings in India, Georgia

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 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.

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.

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.

NBC News, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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