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Monday, February 13, 2012


Netanyahu blames Iran, Hezbollah for bomb targeting Israeli officials

By Simon Denyer and Joel Greenberg, Updated: Monday, February 13, 2:11 PM

NEW DELHI — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran on Monday for twin attempts to bomb people affiliated with the Israeli embassies in New Delhi and Tbilisi, Georgia.
The wife of an Israeli official in New Delhi and her driver were injured in a blast from explosives slapped on their car by a passing motorcyclist, authorities said. Around the same time, a grenade-type device was found duct-taped to the bottom of a car affiliated with the embassy in Tbilisi. It was defused without anyone being injured.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the incidents. But Netanyahu quickly pointed a finger at Iran, which has vowed revenge for recent assassinations of scientists involved in its nuclear program, and at Hezbollah, a terrorist group sponsored by Iran that had pledged to avenge the assassination four years ago of one of its leaders.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast responded by blaming Israel for the New Delhi and Tbilisi incidents, charging that they were intended to “tarnish Iran’s friendly ties with the host countries” and to wage “psychological warfare against Iran,” the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported. The agency quoted Mehmanparast as saying that “Iran condemns terrorism” and “has been the victim of terrorism.”
Ticking off places where he said recent attacks on Jews and Israelis had been thwarted, including Thailand and Azerbaijan, Netanyahu accused Iran of orchestrating Monday’s plots and called the government in Tehran “the greatest exporter of terror in the world.”
“In all these cases, the elements behind the attacks were Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah,” Netanyahu said. “We will continue to act with a strong hand, systematically and patiently, against international terrorism, whose source is Iran.”
Netanyahu offered no specific evidence for his claim. But Israel had put its foreign missions on high alert in recent days because of the anniversary of the death of Hezbollah mastermind Imad Moughniyeh, who was killed in Damascus on Feb. 12, 2008, when a bomb planted in the headrest of his car was detonated.
Iran’s ambassador in India, Mehdi Nabizadeh, said Iran played no role in Monday’s attack, which took place just a few hundred yards from the prime minister’s residence as the diplomat’s wife was heading to the American Embassy School to pick up her children.
“Any terrorist attack is condemned, and we strongly reject the untrue accusations by an official of the Zionist regime,” Nabizadeh said, according to IRNA. “Like always, these accusations are untrue and sheer lies.”
Hamid-Reza Tarraghi, a politician close to Iran’s supreme leader, said that “if Iran would plan something like that, we would certainly not announce it.”
“We have called for support of the resistance against Israel, so it is possible cores of resistance are formed across the world,” Tarraghi said. “But I have no idea who is behind the attack in India.”
Both the New Delhi attack and the discovery of the bomb in Tbilisi happened about the same time Monday — 3:20 p.m. in New Delhi and 1:50 p.m. in Tbilisi (4:50 a.m. in Washington). The incidents further stoked tensions between Iran and the West that are already sky-high.
In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a statement condemning the incidents in India and Georgia “in the strongest possible terms.” She added: “The scourge of terrorism is an affront to the entire international community. The United States places a high priority on the safety and security of diplomatic personnel around the world and we stand ready to assist with any investigation of these cowardly actions.”
Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney said Monday’s attacks “underscore the perilous nature of the world we live in.” In a statement posted on his campaign Web site, he said: “The war against Israel is a war against all democracies, including our own. We can’t afford to let down our guard. And we can’t afford to waver in our support for our closest ally in the Middle East.”


REPORT: Man on motorcycle placed magnetic bomb on car...

NEW DELHI February 13, 2012 (AP)

Assailants targeted Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia in near-simultaneous strikes Monday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed on archenemy Iran, and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah. Iran denied responsibility for the attacks.
The bombs, which wounded four people, threatened to ratchet up already high tensions between Iran, which has been accused of developing a nuclear weapons program, and Israel, which says such a program would be an existential threat to the Jewish state.

The violence came as recent comments by Israeli officials have raised concerns Israel might be preparing an imminent strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. U.S. and other Western countries have been pressing Israel to give sanctions more time.

Tehran already has accused Israel of covert attacks on its nuclear program, including assassinations of top nuclear officials and scientists.

The attacks Monday appeared to have been carried out with sticky bombs attached to cars by magnets. Similar weapons were used against Iran's nuclear scientists, feeding suspicions that the new bombings were a retaliation crafted to mirror those attacks.

"Today we witnessed two attempts of terrorism against innocent civilians," Netanyahu told a gathering of lawmakers from his Likud Party. "Iran is behind these attacks and it is the largest terror exporter in the world," he said.

In India, an assailant on a motorcycle apparently attached a bomb to an Israeli diplomat's vehicle and it quickly exploded, officials said. Israel said an attempted car bombing in Georgia was thwarted. Netanyahu also said Israel had thwarted attacks in recent months in Azerbaijan and Thailand and unspecified other countries.

"In all those cases, the elements behind these attacks were Iran and its protege, Hezbollah," he said, vowing to "act with a strong hand against international terror."

Iranian officials rejected Netanyahu's accusation as unfounded.

"This accusation is within the Zionist regime's psychological war against Iran," the official IRNA news agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying.

"The Zionist regime, due to repeated crimes against humanity, is the main party accused of terrorist activities," he said, according to IRNA.

Both Hezbollah and Iran have deep grievances against the Jewish state.

Hezbollah battled Israel in a monthlong war in 2006, and on Sunday, it the Lebanese guerrilla group marked the anniversary of the 2008 assassination of one of its commanders, Imad Mughniyeh, in a bombing widely believed to have been carried out by Israel. Iran suspects Israeli involvement in attacks on its nuclear program.

The New Delhi attack took place just a few hundred meters from the prime minister's residence as the diplomat's wife was heading to the American Embassy School to pick up her children, said Delhi Police Commissioner B.K. Gupta.

When the car approached a crossing, she noticed a motorcyclist ride up and stick something on it that appeared to be a magnetic device, he said.

The car drove a short distance, there was a loud sound and then an explosion and the car caught fire, he said.

"It was a loud explosion. We realized it's not a firecracker, but an explosion, and rushed toward the car," said Ravi Singh, 50, owner of a gas station near the blast site.


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