BANGKOK — A series of explosions rocked a Bangkok residential neighborhood on Tuesday, including a blast caused by a man believed to be an Iranian national who threw a hand grenade at Thai police officers, a police official said.
The explosions came a day after bombers attacked Israeli Embassy personnel in the capitals of India and Georgia. Israel accused Iran of being behind the attacks, which the Tehran government denied.Witnesses in Bangkok said a total of three foreign-looking men fled a house in the city’s Sukhumvit neighborhood after an explosion in the early afternoon tore the roof off.
Two of the men escaped, triggering a man hunt. The third man emerged from the house disoriented and tried to hail a taxi, witnesses said. When the taxi did not stop, he threw an explosive device, possibly a hand grenade, at the taxi, destroying the front half the vehicle, police said.
Police said the man then threw a hand grenade at approaching police officers.
“It did not reach them. He couldn’t throw it far enough,” said Col. Varavudh Thaweechaikarn, a police officer at the scene. The explosion badly injured the man’s legs; one of his limbs was blasted into a nearby schoolyard.
Among the man’s belongings, police found a receipt from a hotel in the Thai city of Chonburi, Colonel Varavudh said. “The man put his nationality as Iranian when he checked into the hotel,” he said.
Police also found Iranian currency in the man’s wallet.
Thai police did not immediately reveal the man’s identity. He and two other foreigners rented and occupied the house for the past several weeks, said a housecleaner, Laxme Kondan, 35, who lives on the same street.
Ms. Laxme Kondan said she heard an explosion and ran to the house to see what had happened.
“I saw two men wearing shorts and no shoes running out of the house,” she said. “Five minutes later I saw another man run out with blood on his face.”
Wichai Tiwaree, 44, who works in an import-export company on the street where the blast occurred, was riding on a motorcycle soon after the first explosion and said he saw “a guy walking in a very unusual way.”
“I saw blood coming out of his ears,” Mr. Wichai said. “I heard an explosion and saw the man running up the street. People were yelling, ‘Get him! Get him!’”
On Monday, the wife of an Israeli defense envoy to New Delhi was hurt along with several other people when her car was destroyed by an explosive device placed on it by a motorcyclist at a red light. In Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, a similar device was discovered on the car of a local staff member of the Israeli Embassy, but was defused by the police. Israel said both bombs were linked to Iran.
The explosions followed heightened terror warnings in Thailand last month after a Lebanese man was arrested at Bangkok’s main airportas he tried to leave the country. Thai authorities said his arrest came after a tip from Israeli intelligence agents, who warned that a group of people who appeared to be from the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah were planning to strike tourist sites in Bangkok in mid-January.
The man, Atris Hussein, led Thai police to a warehouse where they found almost of four tons of chemicals that can be used for making bombs.
At the time, the American Embassy had issued an “emergency message” warning of a possible terror threat against Americans in Bangkok, and Israel warned its citizens to be on alert as well. A dozen other embassies then urged their own nationals to exercise caution. Thai authorities, though, said Thailand appeared to have been a staging ground but not the target of any attack.
Swedish authorities in Bangkok have visited Mr. Hussein and are providing him legal services, a Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman, Andre Mkandawire, said on Tuesday.[/release]