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Bombers Target Israeli Embassy Staff In Georgia, India

Source: RFE/RL

Israeli diplomats in Georgia and India have been targeted by bomb strikes that Jerusalem is blaming on archenemy Iran, which has denied any involvement.

Number of terrorist incidents 2009 (January-June)

The attacks, which wounded four people in New Delhi, but were thwarted in Tbilisi, come amid already seething tensions between the Islamic republic and the Jewish state.

The West accuses Iran of working toward producing a nuclear weapon, which Israel considers an existential threat. Tehran maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

In New Delhi, officials said an assailant on a motorbike attached a bomb to a vehicle carrying the wife of the Israeli defense attache as it stood just a few hundred meters from the residence of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"When police reached there, they found an Israeli Embassy car. It was badly burned and damaged," police commissioner B.K. Gupta said. "More damage was caused by fire and there was some kind of mild explosion at the rear side of the vehicle."

The official's wife, identified as Tal Yehoshua Koren, was admitted to a local hospital but her life was not believed to be in danger. The Indian driver of the car and two others in a nearby car also sustained minor injuries in the blast.

In Georgia, authorities said they identified an explosive device that was planted on the car of a driver for the Israeli Embassy.

Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili told RFE/RL's Georgian Service that the police were able to intervene before the bomb was detonated.

"A bomb was found in the car of a Georgian employee of the Israeli Embassy in Tbilisi. This was reported by the owner of the vehicle himself," Utiashvili said.

"The police were able to defuse the bomb in time. An investigation is under way now to determine who is behind this bombing attempt."

Israel Blames Iran

From Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to accuse Iran of orchestrating the attacks:

"The elements behind these attacks were Iran and its proxy Hizballah," Netanyahu said. "Today we witnessed two additional attempts, targeting innocent civilians."

Hizballah, an anti-Israeli Lebanese militant group considered a terrorist organization by the West, is largely funded by Iran. The group fought a bitter war with Israel in 2006.

Iran's ambassador to New Delhi, Mehdi Nabizadeh, denied the accusations as "sheer lies."

Netanyahu also said that in recent months there had been "several attempts to attack Israeli citizens [and] Jews in a number of countries: Azerbaijan, Thailand, and other places," but that Israel had worked with local authorities to thwart the attacks.

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

The February 13 attacks come after several Iranian nuclear scientists were killed in bomb attacks, most recently in January. Tehran has blamed the murders on Israeli and U.S. secret services.

A number of analysts describe Jerusalem and Tehran as waging a covert war.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the attacks as "cowardly" and offered U.S. assistance in the investigations.

With RFE/RL's Georgian Service and agency reports

Copyright (c) 2012 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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