Bangkok bombs not meant for large scale destruction: official

Bangkok bombs not meant for large scale destruction: official

Thai authorities probing the links between explosions here and those in India and Georgia have found that bombs being used by the Iranian suspects were designed to inflict minimum damage and did not appear to be intended for acts of terrorism.

A National Security Council official said here today that the bombs that exploded in a central Bangkok neighbourhood were intended to attack certain individuals, and were not for terrorism or sabotage, as they were made of materials that could not cause large-scale destruction.

The Thai authorities are examining materials that were used to make the bombs to find if they were of the same type as those used in the New Delhi bombing.

Council secretary-general Wichean Photephosree told reporters after a meeting with representatives of security agencies, including the armed forces, Royal Thai Police Office, and the Foreign Ministry, that it was not clear that the bombs were intended for acts of terrorism, judging from materials used to make the bombs.

The authorities were probing if yesterday's incident was linked to the near-simultaneous attacks targeting Israeli diplomats in Georgia and India.

Israel's ambassador to Thailand Itzhak Shoham said today that the suspects involved in assembling bombs here were "part of the same network" that targeted Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia. While the attacks in India and Georgia were near simultaneous, the one in Thailand came within 24 hours of the them. 

Wichean said it was not also known yet if the bombs were linked to Atris Hussein, the Swedish-Lebanese man with suspected links to the Hezbollah militant group, who was arrested by Thai police at the international airport here on Jan 12.

Pansiri Prapawat, the deputy police chief, has said an arrest warrant would be sought for the arrest of another man who was involved in yesterday's bombing incident and was still at large. Two other suspects, both Iranians, are in police custody.

Seehasak Puangketkaew, permanent secretary of the Foreign Ministry, said he would consult Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul whether to invite ambassadors based in Bangkok for a briefing on the yesterday's incident to convince them of the capability of Thai security agencies.

Wichean's press statement after the NSC meeting would be posted on the Foreign Ministry's website so that other countries could have confidence in Thailand after the US and UK reissued a travel warning to their citizens, he said.

Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat has said the bomb explosions yesterday were not an act of terrorism. An Immigration Police officer has said that initial reports showed that the three Iranian suspects travelled from Seoul to Phuket and proceeded to Bangkok on Feb 8.

They were allowed to enter the country because they were not found to have been blacklisted or hold any criminal records. Pictures and the identity of another suspect who was still on the run has been sent to all immigration checkpoints.

A Thai woman who had reportedly accompanied the suspects and was believed to be the girlfriend of one of them had travelled out of the country, Wiboon said. It was believed she had nothing to do with yesterday's incident, he added.

The official said the Iranian suspect caught at Suvarnabhumi airport early last night was being detained at the Immigration Police headquarters while the other who lost his legs in one of the explosions was being treated at Chulalongkorn hospital.