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Bangkok terror attacks: agents seize explosives

Grubby factory said to contain urea, other materials linked by officials to Hezbollah suspects
Thai cops find bombs 2012Enlarge
This photo, first released by BangkokBizNews.com, reveals a Thai police sketch of a Lebanese man suspected of plotting bomb attacks against tourists in Bangkok, Thailand. (BangkokBizNews/Screengrab)

Thai police, acting in part on Israeli intelligence, have raided a factory outside Bangkok containing explosives potentially meant for Hezbollah-linked terror attacks, according to Thai press reports.

Roughly 200 Thai cops descended on a factory in Samut Sakhon, a industrialized coastal province west of Bangkok, and discovered explosive materials "ready to use for Bangkok terror," reports Thailand's largest newspaper Thai Rath.

Among the items seized, Thai Rath reports, was a cache of urea, a nitrogen-rich fertilizer favored by bomb makers. According to the Thai Post and other outlets, the materials belong to Lebanese terrorists.

The U.S. embassy shocked Bangkok last with a warning that a Hezbollah-linked bomb spree was imminent in Bangkok, a favored tourist haunt of Americans and Israelis fresh out of mandatory military training.

So far, one suspect has been detained, another is loose in Thailand (see the police sketch above) and, according to the Thai Post, several others may be involved as well. (For the record, Hezbollah denies all involvement.)

Seemingly panicked that Thailand's tourism industry will suffer, Thai officials, including Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, have tried to assure tourists that all is well.

That such a large trove of bomb materials is confiscated (391 boxes, according to one outlet) is somewhat comforting.

But, as of Monday, the U.S. terror warning stands, even as Thai officials offer soothing assurances of order and safety. Depending on the source, accounts of the plot very wildly with one outlet declaring cops insist the Hezbollah attack is "called off."

UPDATE: Conflicting reports from Thai journalists suggest the explosives could be meant for targets outside Thailand. This is based on Thai police accounts of an interrogation with a man captured in the building where explosives were found.

A Bangkok Business News journalist (@sutthirak_kttv) reports via Twitter (in Thai): "366 kilograms of explosive material seized - criminal claims it's been prepared to send outside the country" Other Thai-language reports repeat the same claim. 

This claim, of course, remains highly uncertain, particularly considering Thai authorities' incentive to comfort the public -- or a suspect in custody's incentive to save his skin.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-rice-bowl/thais-agents-seize-explosives-potentially-meant-bangkok-te

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