Thai Police Arrest Iranian National With Suspected Links to Bangkok Bombing

Mohammad Hazai, 42, is arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport as he attempts to board a plane to Kuala Lumpur.

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Police arrested an Iranian national at Bangkok's airport after linking him with three explosions in the Thai capital and were searching for a third suspect Wednesday.

Thai defense minister, Air Chief Marshal Sukhumpol Suwannathat, insisted Wednesday that the explosions were not acts of terrorism but failed to provide an explanation for Tuesday's bombing spree, which ended with one Iranian blowing off his own legs.

A Thai Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) official examines a backpack that was left on the bomb site by a suspect bomber in Bangkok, Thailand Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012.Credit: AP

Police arrested Mohammad Hazai, 42, at Suvarnabhumi Airport Tuesday evening as he was about to board a plane to Kuala Lumpur.

Hazai had been identified by surveillance cameras as one of three Iranians staying at a rented house in Bangkok where a bomb was detonated Tuesday afternoon, authorities said. After the blast, Hazai and another suspect fled the scene, they said.

Police were still searching for the other suspect who left the house, where, officers said, C-4 plastic explosives were found.

A third man, identified as Iranian national Saeib Morabi, ran from the house and tried to hail a taxi. When taxis refused to stop for him, he hurled a grenade at one of them, injuring the driver and three pedestrians, authorities said.

The man fled but was followed by a police car. Police said he threw another grenade at the police car but it bounced off a pickup and blew up next to him, severing both his legs.

The explosions prompted the U.S. and British embassies to reissue travel warnings to their citizens visiting Bangkok that had been recently dropped.

Last month, the US and 10 other embassies issued travel warnings after being informed of planned terrorist attacks on American and Israeli citizens in Bangkok.

On January 16, Thai police found 400 boxes of the bomb making materials urea and ammonium nitrate in a shop house believed to be linked to the plot to carry out the attacks.

Police said they were alerted to the cache by Attis Hussein, a Swedish-Lebanese man arrested days after the U.S. embassy travel alert on suspicion of being a member of the Hezbollah militant group.

Thai authorities have a mixed policy of promoting the country as a tourist destination for all and maintaining security.

"There has been a significant increase in Iranian tourists visiting Thailand last year," said a Thai diplomat who asked to remain anonymous.



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