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Mossad said involved in probe of blast near Israeli embassy in New Delhi

Police reported to question Iranian nationals as letter claiming responsibility cites killings of Iranian officials; Israeli envoy: We weren’t surprised, we’d been on high alert

National Security Guard soldiers inspect the site of a blast near the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, India, Jan. 30, 2021 (AP Photo/Dinesh Joshi)
National Security Guard soldiers inspect the site of a blast near the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, India, Jan. 30, 2021 (AP Photo/Dinesh Joshi)

Israeli spy agency Mossad has become involved in investigating the bomb blast in New Delhi, Kan News reported Saturday, without citing sources.

The report said the agency was checking the possibility of nationals from other countries.

India Today TV reported that police were questioning Iranian nationals in connection with the explosion.

Israeli missions have been on alert around the world in the wake of the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist in November of last year. Tehran has blamed Israel and promised revenge.

Israel’s Ambassador to India Ron Malka said Saturday that the embassy in New Delhi had been on high alert because of “threats” it had been preparing for, even before the small bomb went off outside the mission.

Malka told AFP he was not surprised by Friday’s attack, which caused no injuries but blew the windows out of three cars.

The road outside the embassy remained sealed off Saturday as forensic experts sought clues as to who was responsible for what Israeli officials in Jerusalem have said they are treating as likely terrorism.

Indian police have so far only described it as “a mischievous attempt to create a sensation.”

“This could have ended differently in other circumstances, so we were fortunate,” Malka said in a telephone interview.

“We are always prepared. Especially these last days, we raised the level of alert due to some threats,” he added. “We are not surprised.”

Israeli Ambassador to India Ron Malka (Embassy of Israel New Delhi)

Indian media reports said investigators had found an envelope with a letter addressed to the Israeli ambassador in the street.

The Indian Express newspaper reported that the letter described the low-intensity explosion as a “trailer” and made references to “Iranian martyrs” Qassem Soleimani and Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. “We can end your life, anytime, anywhere,” the letter read.

Soleimani, considered Iran’s most powerful military commander, was killed in a US drone strike in January 2020. Fakhrizadeh, one of the country’s top nuclear scientists, was killed in November — an assassination for which Iran blamed Israel.

In 2012, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran for a bomb attack on an Israeli diplomatic car in Delhi that injured at least three people.

Asked whether there was an Iranian link this time, Malka said: “Those non-state actors that are striving for destablization in the region and the world don’t like what is happening between Israel and India, that are striving for stability and peace. It might be a threat for them.”

Police cordon off an area at a street after an explosion near the Israeli embassy in New Delhi on January 29, 2021. (Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP)

The device exploded as India and Israel marked the 29th anniversary of their diplomatic relations, and Malka said the timing was part of the investigation.

India’s foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar spoke to his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi after the incident.

“We take this very seriously,” Jaishankar said. “No effort will be spared to find the culprits.”

The national security advisors of both countries have also held discussions.

Since establishing relations, India and Israel have become close and India is now one of the biggest buyers of Israeli weapons and defense equipment.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Israel in 2017, and Netanyahu made a return visit a year later.

While Israeli TV speculated that Iran could be behind the incident, as it has been blamed for previous attacks on Israeli embassies, Channel 13 said on Friday that it appeared to be a “very primitive” attack, damaging cars but causing no injuries, and did not seem to be the work of a “sophisticated terror cell.”

Police were said to be examining CCTV footage which appeared to show two suspects who were wanted for questioning over possible involvement in the blast. The taxi driver who dropped the two near the scene has been questioned, the Times of India reported.

Policemen stand guard near the Israeli Embassy after a blast in the area in New Delhi, India, Friday, Jan. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

The Walla news site said Saturday that a previously unheard of group called “Jaish ul-Hind” claimed responsibility for the Friday explosion in a statement posted on the Telegram messaging service.

According to the report, the statement said the attack was in fact an act of revenge against the Indian government and that further attacks were expected, but with no mention of Israel.

In 2012 the wife of Israel’s defense attaché to India was moderately injured after a motorcyclist attached a bomb to her car near Israel’s New Delhi embassy. Iran was suspected in the attack.

It was part of a series of attempted attacks against Israeli targets around the world attributed to Iran. The same day as the 2012 New Delhi blast, a bomb was discovered on an Israeli diplomat’s car in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The next day, three Iranians accidentally blew up their house in Thailand.

There was speculation that those incidents were in response to Israel’s alleged assassinations of multiple Iranian nuclear scientists, as Jerusalem fought to curtail Iran’s nuclear program.

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