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Thai police seek 5th suspect after bombings

From Kocha Olarn, CNN
updated 11:31 AM EST, Fri February 17, 2012
Investigators in Bangkok at the scene of Tuesday's bomb blasts.
Investigators in Bangkok at the scene of Tuesday's bomb blasts.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A Thai court has issued warrants for four Iranians in relation to bombings in Bangkok
  • The police say they want to arrest a fifth person, a 52-year-old man
  • The Bangkok blasts came after bombs targeted Israelis in India and Georgia
  • Israel and Iran have traded accusations over who is to blame for the bombings

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- Thai police want to arrest another Iranian allegedly behind the bombs in Bangkok, a fifth member of a group they say intended to strike Israeli diplomats.

Authorities plan to seek a court warrant for Nikkhahfard Javad, a 52-year-old man who was seen leaving the Bangkok building where the first blast took place on Tuesday, Police Maj. Gen. Anuchai Lekbumrung said Friday.

A Thai criminal court already has issued arrest warrants for four Iranians.

Israeli diplomats targeted in Thailand
Blasts stoke Iran-Israel tension

The Bangkok blasts went off a day after a device attached to an Israeli Embassy van in New Delhi exploded, wounding four people. Another device, found on an embassy car in Tbilisi, Georgia's capital, was safety detonated.

The Thai National Security Council has drawn a tentative link between the bombs in Bangkok and those in India and Georgia, saying the materials used in the explosive devices were similar.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed Tehran for the attacks. But Iran has denied the accusation, saying that "Israeli agents are often the perpetrators of such terrorist acts."

Indian police said Thursday that they have not established an Iranian tie to the New Delhi bombing.

Thai authorities have said they are holding three Iranian suspects -- Saeid Moradi, 28, whose legs were blown off by his own bomb -- and Mohammad Hazaei, 42, who was taken into custody Tuesday at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport as he tried to board a plane to Malaysia. Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, 31, was arrested Wednesday by Malaysian authorities in Kuala Lumpur.

All three face charges that include joint assembling of explosive devices, joint possession of explosive devices without permits and causing an explosion injuring other persons. Moradi also faces charges of attempted killing of state officials on duty and the intentional attempted killing of other persons.

A fourth Iranian, a woman identified as Rohani Leila, remained at large. She is suspected of renting the house where the first device exploded, apparently by accident.

Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim group active in Lebanon that the United States views as a terrorist organization, has denied involvement in the bombs in Thailand, India and Georgia.

"We are not afraid to say that we had nothing to do with these explosions," Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, said in a televised address from an undisclosed location in Lebanon. Hezbollah has received financial and political assistance, as well as weapons and training, from Iran.

Nasrallah denied that the anniversary of the death of a Hezbollah commander Imad Mugniyah in 2008 in an explosion in Damascus, Syria, had inspired the attacks -- a theory posited by some security analysts.

Thai authorities have said that they do not believe Hezbollah is connected to the bombings in Bangkok.

Last month, Thai authorities charged a Lebanese man they said they believed was a member of Hezbollah with possession of explosive materials. The police charged the man, Atris Hussein, after finding outside Bangkok "initial chemical materials that could produce bombs."

The authorities said they believed Hussein was trying to attack spots in Bangkok popular with Western tourists.

CNN's Jethro Mullen, Kevin Flower, Harmeet Singh and Josh Levs contributed to this report.

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