Target was aimed at Israeli staff: Thai police chief

Bangkok: Backing Israel`s claims, Thai police chief has said the three Iranian suspects arrested after the triple blasts here were plotting to target Israeli diplomats and confirmed that the sticky bomb found at the attacks` site matched the explosives used in Monday`s incident in Delhi.

"I can tell you that the target was specific and aimed at Israeli diplomatic staff," police chief Gen Prewpan Dhamapong told a local TV station on Wednesday night. He also said that a sticky bomb was found at the blasts` site. It was the same type of explosives that was used to target Israeli embassy cars in India and Georgia on Monday.

His comments came hours after Israel`s Ambassador to Thailand Itzhak Shoham emphatically claimed that the three Iranian suspects involved in the blasts here were part of the same network of assailants who targeted the Israeli embassy staff in India and Georgia.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday accused Iran of being the world`s "biggest exporter" of terror and asked the global community to draw a "red line" against Tehran`s alleged support to acts of terrorism.

"Iran is the biggest exporter of terror in the world. Iran`s terror operations are now exposed for all to see," Netanyahu said during a Knesset (Israeli Parliament) plenum, a day after the botched attack in Thailand which Israel believed was meant to target its Ambassador in Bangkok.

Meanwhile, Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra urged the public to stay calm following the bombings, saying everything was being done to ensure people`s safety.

Law enforcement agencies as well as the Bangkok fire and rescue department had been told to stay vigilant. Soldiers were also closely monitoring checkpoints on the borders with Myanmar and Laos.

The Governor said authorities will do everything possible to prevent a recurrence of the incident in which five people, including an Iranian attacker, were injured in Sukhumvit Soi 71.

Sukhumbhand said the city was speeding up the installation of another 10,000 security cameras, especially in areas frequented by foreign visitors, and all should be functional within this year, the Bangkok Post reported. Major shopping malls in Bangkok have also stepped up security.

The bomb blasts prompted foreign embassies to issue safety warnings, with the British mission on its website urging its nationals to "exercise caution" in several provinces, including Chiang Rai and Ubon Ratchathani.

Tuesday`s incidents unfurled when a bomb exploded in a rented house in central Bangkok, prompting three Iranian men to flee. One suspect threw two explosive devices at a taxi and a police patrol car, losing both his legs and injuring four other people.

Another suspect was held while trying to escape to Malaysia, while a third person, who had already fled to Kuala Lumpur, was apprehended by Malaysian authorities when he was going to board a flight to Iran from there.

Thailand was seeking the extradition of the Iranian held in Malaysia. "The court approved his arrest warrant so the National Police Office will refer the case to the Attorney General`s Office to coordinate for his extradition," police chief Dhamapong said.

Forensic investigators had found five explosive devices at the suspects` rented house here. They were yet to draw any conclusion about the first explosion that went off in the house, the Nation newspaper said.

}