Bangkok apt - Reuters - Feb 2012
The Bangkok apartment where the bomb exploded. Photo by Reuters
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An Iranian man was seriously wounded in Bangkok on Tuesday when a bomb he was carrying exploded and he lost both his legs. The incident was an attempted Iranian terrorist attack, Israel says.

A short time before, there was an explosion in a house the man was renting in the Ekamai area of central Bangkok. Soon afterward, there was a third blast on a nearby road, Thai police and officials reported. Senior Israeli officials noted that initial findings by Thai security forces indicate that the terrorist cell had intended to hit Israeli targets.

The incidents in the Thai capital follow accusations by Israel that Iran was behind Monday's attacks against the wife of the Israeli defense attache in New Delhi and the failed attempt to detonate an explosive on an Israeli embassy vehicle in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. Tuesday's events revealed the "smoking gun" implicating Iran.

The Iranian terrorist gang in Bangkok was uncovered following the blast in an apartment in the Thai capital. Two gang members who hold Iranian passports were arrested by Thai security forces following a powerful explosion in the prestigious Bangkok neighborhood that is home to a large number of embassies.

The Israeli embassy is less than a kilometer from the site of the blast, which took place in an apartment hideout that the Iranian terrorist cell used to prepare explosives. Members of the cell left the scene immediately following the blast.

In the second incident, in which a cell member's legs were blown off, the terrorist, Said Muradi, was confronted by Thai policemen while trying to catch a cab. The taxi driver refused to allow him into his vehicle and in response, he threw an explosive charge at the cab and another one at the police officers. One of the explosives hit a tree and bounced back, severing both of his legs.

Police on the scene found the man's Iranian passport in his backpack and began a hunt for the other members of the gang. Within an hour, another member who had an Iranian passport was arrested at Bangkok's airport on his way to a flight to Malaysia. The hunt for a third member of the group continued, but a search of the apartment hideout revealed an explosive laboratory with a stash of plastic explosives and detonation devices.

The police commander in the Thai capital said on Tuesday that the explosives were of the type that would be used to target people, by attaching them to motor vehicles. These findings reinforce the assessment that the cell in Thailand was part of a wider terror effort by Iran against Israeli targets over the past two days, because the attack in New Delhi and the attempted attack in Tbilisi made use of magnetic explosive charges that were attached to cars.

The working assumption in Israel is that it is possible other cells will attempt to carry out similar attacks in other locations around the world in the coming days, and in any event, Israeli diplomatic missions are on a high state of alert. Some diplomatic offices, including the embassy in New Delhi, the consulate in the Indian city of Mumbai and the embassies in the Thai and Georgian capitals, are operating on a reduced footing.

Israeli diplomatic missions will remain on a high state of alert. Israeli security officials said the incidents in the three countries reflect an Iranian attempt to carry out a series of simultaneous attacks around the time of the fourth anniversary on Sunday of the assassination of senior Hezbollah figure Imad Mughniyeh. The organization has blamed Israel for the killing.

Indian officials have not publicly attributed the New Delhi attack to Iran, but the Indian media has reported that a number of Iranians in the city have been questioned.

The Israeli woman injured in the attack, Tal Yehoshua Koren, is recovering from surgery to remove shrapnel from her spine and doctors say she is in a stable condition.