Car bombs 'target Israel envoys' in India and Georgia

The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder at the scene in Delhi: "The entire area has been cordoned off"

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Bombers have targeted staff at Israeli embassies in India and Georgia, officials say, with Israel accusing Iran of masterminding the attacks.

Witnesses said a motorcyclist placed a device on an embassy car in Delhi, causing a blast that hurt four people - one seriously. A bomb underneath a diplomat's car in Tbilisi was defused.

Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran was behind both incidents.

But Iranian officials denied the claims as "sheer lies".

One of the victims of the Delhi bombing, the wife of a defence ministry official, was in a "critical but stable" condition, according to AFP news agency. It quoted a doctor as saying she had undergone spinal surgery.

'Terror exporter'

Start Quote

The war of words may be escalating, but so is a semi-clandestine struggle ranging well beyond the Middle East”

End Quote Gordon Corera Security correspondent, BBC News

Mr Netanyahu told a meeting of his Likud party MPs that there had been "two attempts of terrorism against innocent civilians".

"Iran is behind these attacks and it is the largest terror exporter in the world," he said.

He also blamed Iran for recent plots to attack Israeli targets in Thailand and Azerbaijan that were prevented.

And he suggested that the militant Islamist Hezbollah movement was also involved.

Israel's foreign ministry said the country had the ability to track down those who carried out the attacks.

But Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast rejected Mr Netanyahu's accusation, calling it "psychological warfare against Iran".

"We condemn any terrorist action and the world knows that Iran is the biggest victim of terrorism," he was quoted as saying by the official Irna news agency.

International condemnation

Earlier, the state's ambassador to India Mehdi Nabizadeh had told Irna: "These accusations are untrue and sheer lies, like previous times."

In a statement, India's Foreign Minister SM Krishna pledged a full investigation, adding: "The culprits will be brought to justice at the earliest."

At the scene

The attack took place in a high security zone in the Indian capital, a kilometre from the heavily fortified Israeli embassy, and just down the road from the Indian prime minister's official residence.

Eyewitnesses say a man on a motorcycle drove up to the Israeli embassy minivan, sporting distinct blue diplomatic plates, and appeared to attach something to the back. Minutes later it exploded. The vehicle itself has been badly damaged - the back of it blown out. Police and emergency services cordoned off the site almost immediately. Forensic experts in white jackets and members of the bomb disposal squad examined the debris - trying to find traces of the explosive. They were joined by Israeli embassy staff.

Tonight Delhi has been placed on high alert with extra security outside Western embassies including that of the United States. India has not experienced this kind of an attack before and it's going to be a while before they make sense of what happened here.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the attacks, saying the US "stands ready to assist with any investigations of these cowardly actions". UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was "shocked and appalled" by the bombings.

The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, in Jerusalem, says security at Israeli embassies has been tightened in recent months following warnings of potential attacks, after Iran accused Israel of a series of attacks on its nuclear scientists.

BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera said one of them, Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, died last month when motorcyclists placed a "sticky bomb" on his car - a technique similar to that used in previous attacks attributed to the work of Israel's Mossad.

Similarities seen in the Delhi blast could be an indication of the aggressors sending a message that attacks in Tehran will be repaid in kind, he added.

After the explosion in Delhi, Indian TV showed pictures of a burning car near the embassy.

The area around the vehicle was later cordoned off and forensic experts and the bomb squad were examining the burnt out remains.

The embassy is guarded by several layers of security and is in a well-defended area of central Delhi, close to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's official residence.

'Noticed device'

David Goldfarb, the spokesman for Israel's Delhi embassy, said the diplomat's car was close to the building on Aurangzeb Road when the explosion went off.

He said they had no details as to who was behind the attack.

Officials in Georgia said an explosive device was attached to the bottom of a diplomat's car in the capital, Tbilisi, but was found and defused before it detonated.

Israeli embassy driver Roman Khachaturyan said he had just driven his child to school when he spotted the bomb.

"When I was driving I heard a noise. I got out of the car and saw something stuck to it."

Map showing location of Delhi blast

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