A bomb blast that badly wounded an Israeli diplomat in New Delhi was a terrorist attack by a highly-trained operative, the Indian government said Tuesday, as Israel accused Iran of being responsible.
The injured female diplomat was described by doctors as stable after overnight surgery to remove shrapnel from her spine after the attack, in which a motorcyclist planted a suspected magnetic bomb on her car.
"The explosion according to eyewitnesses happened within seconds of the device being planted," Home Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters in Delhi. "It is quite clear that a very well-trained person carried out this attack."
"One has to progress on the basis that it was a terrorist attack," he said, adding "we are not pointing our finger at any group or organisation."
In Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned Monday's attack in India and an attempted bombing in Georgia in the "strongest possible terms" but the White House reserved judgment on who was responsible.
Israel said it was in no doubt about whom to blame, after the embassy car in New Delhi exploded in a ball of flames while police defused an explosive fixed 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 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.
Bystanders dragged the 42-year-old Israeli diplomat and her Indian driver from their burning car after the hitman fixed the bomb to the silver Toyota as it slowed for a junction in central Delhi.
"She has sustained multiple shrapnel injuries. Because of the explosion, sharp metal objects were found in her liver, lungs and spinal cord," Arun Bhanot, a doctor at the Primus Hospital in Delhi, told reporters.
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"The major problem was in the spinal cord," he said. "The shrapnel was causing pressure in the nerve. She was having a problem in the left foot but now they (the shrapnel pieces) have all been removed."
Another doctor said she was in a stable condition following surgery.
The diplomat, named as Tal Yehoshua Koren, is also the wife of Israel's defence attache in Delhi, and was on her way to collect her children from school, officials said.
"Investigations will proceed until we find the perpetrator of this attack," Chidambaram said. "CCTV camera images are being scanned but so far there is no clear image of the motorcycle rider or the number plate."
New Delhi communications lecturer Shashwati Goswami 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," Goswami told AFP.
In Tbilisi, an Israeli embassy employee found a bomb on his car and contacted police who defused the device, according to Georgia's interior ministry.
The method used in the attacks resembled 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".
The last militant strike in New Delhi was in September when a bomb outside the High Court killed 14 people -- one of a number of blasts that has shaken public confidence in the government's counter-terror capabilities.