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Israel accuses Iran over embassy bombs

14 february 2012, 17:17
 Israeli embassy car after an explosion. ©REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma
Israeli embassy car after an explosion. ©REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma
Israel assailed Iran as the world's "biggest exporter of terror" after two bombs targeted its overseas personnel in India and Georgia, critically wounding one female diplomat in New Delhi, AFP reports.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned Monday's "cowardly" attacks in the "strongest possible terms" but the White House reserved judgment on who was responsible.

Israel was in no doubt about whom to blame, after one of its embassy cars exploded in a ball of flames in central New Delhi and police defused a bomb affixed to another embassy vehicle in the Georgian capital Tbilisi.

"Iran is behind these attacks. It is the biggest exporter of terror in the world," Israeli Prime Minister Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told members of his right-wing Likud party in Jerusalem.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast rejected the accusations. "Iran condemns all acts of terrorism," he was quoted as saying by Al-Alam television.

In New Delhi, bystanders dragged the 42-year-old Israeli diplomat and her Indian driver from their burning car, after police said a hitman on a motorbike fixed a suspected magnet bomb to the silver Toyota as it slowed for a junction.

The diplomat is also the wife of Israel's defence attache in New Delhi, and was on her way to collect her children from school, officials said.

She was rushed to a private hospital where surgeons operated on multiple wounds including to her spine. "She is critical, but she is stable," the medical superintendent of the Primus Hospital, N.D. Khurana, told AFP.

An Israeli defence ministry spokesman in Jerusalem named the woman as Tal Yehoshua Koren and said she would be flown back to Israel "as soon as possible".

New Delhi communications lecturer Shashwati Goswami said he was opposite the car when it blew up.

"All of a sudden there was a boom and I saw that a car was engulfed in fire. I really got a shock," he told AFP.

In Tbilisi, an Israeli embassy employee found a bomb on his car and contacted police who were able to defuse the device before it detonated, according to Georgia's interior ministry.

The method used in the attacks resembles the tactics of assassins who have been targeting Iranian nuclear scientists with magnetic bombs placed on their vehicles.

Three scientists and a physicist have been killed in the past two years in murders blamed by Iran on Israeli and US secret services.

The bomb plots in New Delhi and Tbilisi also fell between anniversaries of the deaths of two top militants from Hezbollah, the militant group which has close ties to Iran. The anniversary sparks annual travel warnings from Israel.

Netanyahu said there had been a number of attempts to harm Israelis and Jews in recent months in places such as Thailand and Azerbaijan, in a series of plots he said were coordinated by Iran and Hezbollah.

Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the latest attacks proved that Israelis both at home and abroad were "a target for terrorists" but that the country knew "how to identify those who are responsible".

India, which is no stranger to militant attacks, ordered security to be tightened at diplomatic missions and Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna voiced regret.

"India very strongly condemns such incidents and it is going to be fully investigated and the culprits will be brought to justice at the earliest," he said in a statement.

The last militant strike in New Delhi was in September when a bomb outside the High Court killed 14 people -- one of a series of blasts that has shaken public confidence in the government's counter-terror capabilities.

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