Koh Chang, Thailand 311.
(photo credit: Elana Kirsh)
The Counter Terrorism Bureau
Friday issued a "severe travel warning" to Israeli nationals, advising against travel
to Bangkok "in the near future", and
to "avoid congregating at known spots favored by Israelis, watch out for suspicious items and not to accept packages from strangers in Bangkok."
Thai authorities arrested a Lebanese suspect after being warned by
Israel of a possible attack in Bangkok, Thailand's deputy prime minister
said on Friday, adding that police had stepped up security and he was
confident the situation was under control.
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Hezbollah threat prompts security for Ashkenazi
Lebanese suspect from the Hezbollah group has been taken into custody
by Thai officials and police are investigating further," Chalerm
Yoobamrung told Reuters.
"Following concern raised by the Israeli
embassy about a possible attack by a group of Lebanese terrorists in
Bangkok, Thai police officials had been coordinating with Israeli
officials since before the New Year."
Thai Defense Minister Yuthasak
Sasiprapha said Thai and US intelligence officials were monitoring the
movements of other individuals and were stepping up precautions in areas
deemed to be at risk such as tourist sites and Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi
A Defense Ministry source said Israeli intelligence had
contacted Thai officials on December 22 with information that two or
three suspects could be planning an attack in Thailand. However, the
individuals traveled to the south and left the country.
Israelis alerted Thai officials again on January 8 of the danger of an
attack around January 13 to 15 in areas where there are often large
concentrations of Western tourists, such as the Khao San Road, which is
popular with young backpackers.
The arrest was made after the
second Israeli warning, the source said, adding that Thai security
officials were working closely with the United States and Israel.
Minister Yuthasak said the Israeli embassy and synagogues could also be
targeted and that the attacks could come in the form of car bombs.
officials had not intended to release the news at this time since it
could have an impact on tourism and cause panic among citizens," he
said, noting that the US embassy naturally was concerned about the
safety of Americans.
Earlier, the US embassy had warned of a
possible attack by "foreign terrorists" and told its citizens to be
careful in areas of the capital frequented by tourists.
warning all US citizens to take caution when visiting public areas where
Western tourists are known to gather in Bangkok," said Walter
Braunohler, a spokesman at the embassy, declining to give further
Bangkok, a magnet for tourists with its vibrant
nightlife and a transit point for those heading for Thailand's beaches,
has gone through periods of violent political turmoil in recent years
but threats of foreign attacks are rare.