Thai police searching for two more suspects

Bangkok: Thai police today said they were searching for two more suspects, including an explosive expert, as the criminal inquiry into the suspected Iranian plot targeting Israelis overseas with magnetised bombs expanded.

The countrywide lookout for more suspects came as media reports said that Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak who made an unannounced trip to Singapore airshow may have been the prime target.

But Thailand`s police chief Priewpan Damapong denied reports that terrorists were targeting Barak who was scheduled to change planes in Thailand on Wednesday but later cancelled the plan following the bombings on Tuesday.

The city police commissioner Gen Winai Thongson said that one of the two suspects for whom the lookout had been sent out may have been providing training in the use of explosives as Thai authorities stepped up security at the country`s six international airports which could become possible new targets for acts of sabotage following a terror warning by Israel.

Thongson identified one of the suspects 52-year-old Iranian man Nikkhahfard Javad. He said the man had been caught on the CCTV cameras as he left the house that had been used by the Iranians. The roof of the residence was blown off after a cache of explosives detonated accidentally forcing the suspects to abandon the hideout.

On the threats to the airports, the country`s police chief told the Transport Ministry yesterday to place the Airports, under the Airports of Thailand, on high alert as Israel has warned terrorists may be targeting them. A government source said Israel had advised police directly to boost security at airports, based on intelligence reports it had received, local media reports said.

Airport authority chairman Sumit Phomanee raised the security alert at the six airports from level 2, the normal level, to level 3. The airports are Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hat Yai and Phuket. The warning also prompted the government to beef up security for other modes of public transport.

Ronnachit Yaemsa-ard, acting governor of the Mass Rapid Authority of Thailand, said he had instructed Bangkok Metro Co, the operator of the MRT, to step up security at subway stations. State Railway of Thailand governor Yutthana Thapcharoen said security had been boosted at all railway stations.

Meanwhile Monthon Ngernwattana, acting chief of the Royal Thai Police`s foreign affairs division, said the Attorney-General will seek the extradition to Thailand of Masoud Sedaghat Zadeh, an Iranian suspect who was arrested by Malaysian authorities in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday after fleeing Bangkok.

Zadeh had entered Malaysia on Tuesday and had been attempting to fly to Iran when he was detained, the Malaysian government said. Monthon said even though Thailand and Malaysia do not have a formal extradition treaty, Thailand will use an extradition treaty it signed with Britain, Malaysia`s former colonial ruler.