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Hezbollah denies it had role in recent bombings of Israeli targets

By the CNN Wire Staff
February 17, 2012 -- Updated 0120 GMT (0920 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "We had nothing to do with these explosions," head of Hezbollah says
  • Hassan Nasrallah suggests "revenge" plots wouldn't target average Israelis
  • Israeli PM blames Iran, calls nation "a threat to the stability of the world"
  • Iranian minister says Israeli agents "are often the perpetrators" of terror

(CNN) -- The head of Hezbollah denied involvement Thursday in attacks this week on Israeli targets in India, Georgia and Thailand. "We are not afraid to say that we had nothing to do with these explosions," Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised address from an undisclosed location in Lebanon.

He denied that the death of a Hezbollah commander in 2008 in an explosion in Damascus, Syria, inspired the attacks.

"The blood of Imad Mogniyeh will always haunt the Israelis," he said, referring to the commander whose death Hezbollah blamed on Israel, and Israeli denied. Hezbollah has longstanding close ties with Iran and Syria.

"It is quite insulting to accuse Hezbollah of plans to kill average Israeli civilians in retaliation of killing our leaders," Nasrallah continued. "Those who we will take our revenge from know themselves very well and they will need to keep taking precautions for their safety."

Hezbollah is a Shiite Muslim group active in Lebanon that the United States views as a terrorist organization.

Nashrallah's remarks came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Tehran for the attacks. "Iran is a threat to the stability of the world; they are targeting innocent diplomats," he said. "The international community has to denounce the Iranian actions and to indicate red lines concerning the Iranian aggression."

But Ramin Mehmanparast, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, "condemned the blasts and said that Israeli agents are often the perpetrators of such terrorist acts," Iran's state-run Press TV said on its website.

And state-run Iranian news agency IRNA quoted an analyst as saying the Israeli allegations against Iran involving the bombings in India and Thailand represent "a prelude to terrorist attacks against the Islamic Republic."

Thai state-run MCOT Television said Thursday that the country's criminal court had issued arrest warrants for four Iranians on charges related to Tuesday's Bangkok bomb incidents.

The approval came after police submitted closed-circuit television pictures, explosive devices seized from their rented house and testimony of witnesses, MCOT reported.

Thai authorities 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, MCOT said.

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, it said.

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, MCOT said.

A Thai police official said Wednesday that Israeli diplomats were the intended target of the Bangkok blasts. "I can tell you that the target of the operation of this group is specifically aimed at Israeli diplomats," Police Gen. Priewpan Damapong told CNN affiliate Channel 3.

His comments came after a senior Thai security official had drawn a tentative link between the Bangkok blasts and attacks aimed at Israeli officials in India and Georgia, saying the materials used in the explosive devices were similar.

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.

In the events Monday, 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.

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

The materials used in the Bangkok bombs were similar to those used in India, the Thai National Security Council said.

Analysis: Was Iran behind the Bangkok bombings?

The attacks and accusations come amid tensions between Israel and Iran. Israel had made clear it is considering attacking Iran's nuclear facilities. Israel, the United States and other countries have expressed concern that Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons, despite Tehran's insistence that its nuclear program is intended solely for peaceful purposes.

Iranian officials have openly antagonized Israel, and Israeli officials have described the regime in Tehran as an existential threat.

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

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