Car bombs in Tbilisi and New Dehli linked to Iran-Israel conflict
By Ernest Petrosyan
Wednesday, February 15On Monday, coordinated car bomb attacks targeted the Israeli embassies in New Dehli, India, and Tbilisi, Georgia.
“There was one attempted attack, and one successful,” spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Paul Hirschson, told Reuters. “In both cases, the people concerned worked with the Israeli embassies."
In Tbilisi, an explosive device attached to an Israeli Embassy staff member’s car was found by the owner, who called the police. Law enforcement was able to defuse the bomb before it went off.
“The mine was attached to a car of a Georgian citizen working for the Israeli embassy in Tbilisi,” said Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) Analytical Department, Shota Utiashvili.
Both incidents came one day after the fourth anniversary marking the assassination of Hezbollah's deputy leader, Imad Mughniyah, which the Islamist group blames on Israel.
Georgian State Minister of Euro-Atlantic Integration, Giorgi Baramidze, notes that the attacks were not identical. “Some parallels are made between the explosion in Delhi and the bomb found in Tbilisi. These facts are different and will be investigated by specialists,” told Baramidze, adding that the car belonged to a private individual, not the embassy itself.
The explosion in New Dehli injured an Israeli diplomat's wife, as well as several bystanders.
On Tuesday, Georgian law enforcement detained a man suspected in “plotting a terrorist act,” according to an MIA statement.
“Officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia detained Bezhan Shakaia for plotting an act of terrorism. The individual entered Georgia from the territory of Abkhazia, currently under Russian occupation and military control,” reads statement.
Shota Utiashvili, head of the Interior Ministry’s information and analytical department, told Civil.ge that the suspect was arrested on Tuesday in Zugdidi, Western Georgia, close to the administrative border with Abkhazia.
He also said that Shakaia was arrested in connection with another foiled terrorist act at a market in Zugdidi, but that it was unrelated to the embassy attack.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah for both the explosion in New Delhi and the attempted bombing in Tbilisi, Reuters reports.
“In recent months we have witnessed several attempts to attack Israeli citizens and Jews in several countries, including Azerbaijan, Thailand and others," Netanyahu said at a meeting with politicians from his Likud party. "Iran and its proxy Hezbollah were behind all of these attempted attacks”.
"Today we have witnessed two additional attempted terrorist attacks on innocent civilians. The first against an Israeli woman who was wounded in New Delhi, and the second against a local employee of the Israeli Embassy in Georgia," he continued.
Tehran, however, denies its involvement in organizing the attacks. “This has been done by Israeli security forces. Now a ghost hunt will start and Iran and Islamists will be blamed for everything,” the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stated.
The BBC released a statement from the Iranian government, which calls the accusations “sheer lies” and regards them as part of an Israeli propaganda campaign.
According to Iranian Foreign Minister Ramin Mehmanparast, “Israel has itself plotted its embassy car explosion in New Delhi and an attempted car bomb in Tbilisi to 'tarnish Iran’s friendly relations' with India and Georgia,” Iran’s state news agency, IRNA, reported.
He called Netanyahu’s accusation that Tehran was behind the incidents part of Israel’s “psychological warfare against Iran”.
“Iran condemns terrorism in the strongest terms, as Iran has been the victim of terrorism itself,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU High Commissioner Catherine Ashton both condemned the attack on Israeli diplomatic vehicles shortly after the explosion in New Delhi.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the bombing of an Israeli diplomatic vehicle in India and the attempted attack on Israeli Embassy personnel in Georgia. 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. Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured personnel in New Delhi and their loved ones,” Clinton said.