Bomb plot deepens

national February 16, 2012 00:00

By Agencies, The Nation

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Iran, Israel play blame game over Bangkok blasts; Surapong: No link yet to terrorism; Travel advisories by US, UK, NZ, Canada, the Netherlands, Aust, Brazil, Japan, Norway, Ireland

Iran and Israel dropped diplomatic bombshells on each other yesterday, accusing one another of being behind Tuesday’s bomb blasts in Bangkok.

Israel was quick to implicate Iran in the bomb incidents. “The attempted attack in Bangkok proves once again that Iran and its proxies are continuing to act in the ways of terror and the latest attacks are an example of that,” Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said.

But Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast denied his country was involved in any of the cases and said Tehran condemned any “terrorist action”. He told the official IRNA news agency: “The aim of the Zionist regime’s claims is to overshadow the assassination of Iranian scientists.”

The Iranian spokesman also accused Israel of “trying to harm the friendly and historic relations between Iran and Thailand”.

Also yesterday, the United States – a close ally of Israel – condemned the blasts in Thailand’s capital and suggested they may be linked to Iran.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the US was awaiting the results of investigations. She offered condolences to those injured.

‘Iranian-sponsored links’

Nuland did not blame Irandirectly. But she noted Monday’s incidents in India and Georgia,

and recent “Iranian-sponsored” and “Hezbollah-linked” plots to attack Israeli and Western interests in Azerbaijan and Thailand. She called it “reprehensible” for states to use terrorism as a foreign policy tool.

Thai authorities are holding two Iranians in connection with the three explosions in Bangkok on Tuesday.

One of the men, named as 28-year-old Saeid Morati according to a passport found in his possession, lost both his legs when he tried to hurl an explosive device at police while fleeing an earlier blast at a house in the Sukhumvit area. The other Iranian was detained as he tried to board a flight out of Thailand. A third suspect who fled to Malaysia was arrested at Thailand’s request.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul yesterday said Thai authorities have not described Tuesday’s incident as an act of terrorism. But he urged terrorist groups not to include Thailand in their plots.

“At the moment, there is no evidence linking this incident to terrorism. So far the arrested [men] are accused of illegal use of explosives and of attempting to kill others and officials on duty,” Surapong said. “Personally, I believe the incidents in Georgia, India, and Thailand have no connection.”

He added, however, that: “I would like to ask people who think of plots harmful to Thailand to stop them. And I ask terrorists not to use Thailand as their base.”

The foreign minister called his press conference yesterday after 10 foreign countries issued travel ad-visories for their citizens following the blasts. They are the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Norway, and Ireland.

Surapong meets us ambassador

Surapong said the US ambassador to Thailand, Kristie Kenney, had called him on Tuesday evening to ask for details about the blasts. The US Embassy later issued a warning advising American citizens to be careful when travelling in Thailand.

“I thank Ambassador Kenney for calling first. That allowed me an opportunity to explain the situation and the actions by the Thai authorities aimed at restoring foreigners’ confidence,” he said.

The foreign minister had earlier expressed his disappointment over a warning last month by the US Embassy about possible terrorist attacks in Bangkok.

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