Thai police step up security, Malaysian police arrest 3rd Iranian linked to Bangkok blasts

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BANGKOK, Feb 16 — Thai police have stepped up security measures at tourist destinations popular among foreign visitors, and held press conference this morning after Malaysian police arrested a third Iranian suspect linked to the three explosions in Bangkok on Tuesday.

Pol Maj Gen Wichai Sangprapai, acting commander of Bangkok’s Metropolitan Police Bureau, urged the Thai public not to panic as there was no intelligence report indicating any terrorist attack in Thailand.

Police stations in the Thai capital were ordered to boost security, particularly in areas popular among foreign tourists, he said, asking the public to inform police immediately of any irregularities.

At Khao San Road, a major tourist centre, police have set up checkpoints from 8pm-6am. Tourists crowded the street as usual despite the three blasts that alarmed the capital on Tuesday.

Interviewed by international media, some foreign visitors expressed confidence in the  security measures provided by the police.

The police investigation team’s news briefing at Khlong Ton police station was giving more details after Malaysia reported arresting a third suspect in the bombings, an Iranian national. The Thai National Police Bureau asked the Malaysian police to bring him to face charges in Thailand.

The French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) quoted Malaysian police chief Ismail Omar as saying in a statement on Wednesday that “The Iranian was arrested under the Immigration Act of Malaysia (using) intelligence provided by Thai counterparts. He is being investigated for terrorism activities in relation to bombings in Thailand.”

The statement gave no further details, such as the suspect’s name but the Thai authorities identified him as Masoud Sedaghatzadeh.

China’s Xinhua news agency quoted the Malaysian newspaper The Star as reporting that the 31-year-old suspect was nabbed at a budget airline terminal near Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday as he was about to board a flight to Iran.

The Thai authorities are holding two Iranian suspects earlier in police custody — Saeid Moradi who lost his legs from his own bomb – and another suspect, Mohammad Hazaei, who was taken into custody at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday while attempting to board a plane to Malaysia.

They were not yet charged with terrorism but criminal charges including possession of explosives, attempted murder, attempted murder and causing explosions damaging property.

A fourth suspect, a woman who rented the house where the first bomb was exploded, apparently by accident, is still at large.