An anti-Israel demonstration outside the country's embassy in New Delhi in 2006
An anti-Israel demonstration outside the country's embassy in New Delhi in 2006. An Israeli embassy car on Monday blew up in the Indian capital New Delhi, injuring two people, but the cause of the explosion was not immediately known, police said. © Raveendran - AFP/File
An anti-Israel demonstration outside the country's embassy in New Delhi in 2006
Last updated: February 13, 2012

Israeli embassy car explodes in Delhi, two hurt

Bombs targeted Israeli interests in India and Georgia on Monday, injuring a diplomat and her driver in New Delhi, officials said, in attacks that Israel accused Iran of masterminding.

A hitman on a motorbike fixed a suspected magnetic bomb on an Israeli embassy car in the Indian capital wounding the 42-year-old diplomat and her Indian driver, police said.

The bomb at around 3:30 pm (1000 GMT) caused their car to explode in a ball of flames in a diplomatic area of central New Delhi and bystanders had to drag the pair from the vehicle, witnesses said.

In the Georgian capital Tbilisi, 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometres) to the west, an embassy employee found a suspicious device in his car and contacted police who were able to defuse the bomb before it dentonated.

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

The Israeli leader 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 coordinated by Tehran and Lebanon's Shiite militia Hezbollah.

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

In New Delhi, police commissioner B.K. Gupta said that a witness saw a man ride up behind the targeted vehicle -- a silver Toyota with diplomatic plates -- as it approached a junction shortly after leaving the Israeli embassy.

"He saw a man on a motorbike sticking some kind of a device on the rear side of the car," the police commissioner told reporters. "Just a few seconds after, the car exploded."

The diplomat -- who is also the wife of the defence attache in New Delhi who was on her way to collect her children from school -- was taken to a private hospital where she was said to be in critical but stable condition.

Two others were also injured, in addition to the driver.

"She is in the OT (operating theatre) for spine surgery," medical superintendent of Primus Hospital, N.D. Khurana, told AFP. "There are so many injuries. ... She is critical, but she is stable."

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

The charred remains of the car surrounded by debris stood in the street until the early evening, with the roof still intact but the back door missing.

"I was opposite when the explosion occurred. All of a sudden there was a boom and I saw that a car was engulfed in fire. I really got a shock," witness Shashwati Goswami, a New Delhi communications lecturer, told AFP.

Wounded driver Manoj Sharma told the Press Trust of India that he had washed the car that morning and had already run several errands before the blast struck.

"I just felt the fire and I came out ... and then brought out madam," a stunned Sharma was quoted as saying from hospital.

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

Three scientists and a physicist have been killed in the last two years in murders blamed by Iran on Israeli and American 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.

The Indian government ordered the tightening of security at diplomatic missions, while 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.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the "cowardly" attacks in the "strongest possible terms."

Her denunciation was echoed by European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, who said attacks on diplomatic missions "cannot be justified under any circumstances."

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the 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."

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

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