A suspected Iranian bomber had his legs blown off as he hurled a grenade at Thai police Tuesday, officials said, with Israel accusing Tehran of being behind the third attack in world capitals this week.
The explosion in central Bangkok came a day after bombers targeted Israeli embassy staff in the capitals of India and Georgia, with a female diplomat critically wounded in New Delhi, in attacks Israel said were plotted by Iran.
Thai bomb squad experts were called out to the Sukhumvit Road area in the east of the city after a blast at a house, following which three men were seen fleeing, authorities said.
One of the men hurled an explosive device at a taxi, which refused to stop, and then tried to throw another at police, triggering a blast at the side of a busy road which tore off his legs, they said.
Police said they found Iranian identification on the injured man, who was admitted to a Bangkok hospital for emergency treatment.
“So it’s likely that he’s an Iranian national,” Major General Pisit Pisuthisak, deputy commander of Bangkok Metropolitan Police, told AFP.
A high pressure water cannon was used to defuse another device found inside the same house, police said.
Authorities detained an Iranian man at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport for questioning but it was not immediately clear if he was one of the other suspects, whose motives were unknown.
Bangkok has been on the watch for a terror attack since police last month charged a Lebanese man suspected of planning a strike following a US warning that tourist areas maybe targeted.
Thai authorities alleged the Lebanese man had links to Hezbollah, an Iranian- and Syrian-backed Muslim Shiite group that is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Washington.
Israel was quick to accuse Iran of involvement in the blasts in Bangkok Tuesday.
“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.
The country assailed Iran as the world’s “biggest exporter of terror” after Monday’s attacks in India and Georgia, amid rising tensions in the region.
The blast in New Delhi blew up a car, critically wounding the Israeli diplomat and her Indian driver.
In Tbilisi, an Israeli embassy employee found a bomb on his car and contacted police who were able to defuse the device before it detonated, according to Georgia’s interior ministry.
Thai police said they had found no direct link between Tuesday’s bombings and the earlier threat but had received a separate warning from intelligence sources about a potential new attack.
“There was some warning of a possible attack and police were monitoring, but we did not know where it would happen,” national police chief Phrewphan Damapong told reporters.
The United States condemned the Bangkok blasts and voiced concern about a worldwide “uptick” in such violence, including some with alleged links to Iran.
“We’re concerned about it. Some of these (attacks) have been linked to Iran,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned Monday’s attacks in India and Georgia in the “strongest possible terms”, although the White House reserved judgment on who was responsible.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast has rejected the accusations that Tehran was responsible. “Iran condemns all acts of terrorism,” he was quoted as saying by Al-Alam television.
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra urged people not to “jump to conclusions” and urged people not to panic.
The safety scares are another blow to the kingdom’s tourist-friendly image, which was badly dented last year by devastating flooding across much of the country, as well as rounds of rival political protests in recent years.
Security has been stepped up around possible targets in Bangkok, including the Israeli embassy and the Khao San Road backpacker district.
Britain on Tuesday warned its citizens in the country to be on guard following the latest incident.