New Delhi: The wife of an Israeli diplomat who survived a bomb attack here remained in hospital Tuesday as India called it a “terror attack” and said the motorcyclist who planted a sophisticated magnetic explosive device on her car was “very well trained”.
Tal Yehoshua Koren, wife of the defence attache, who suffered multiple shrapnel injuries, was stable at the Intensive Care Unit of the Primus Hospital in the diplomatic enclave.
Koren, who underwent a surgery late Monday, told Israeli media that she was grateful that her children were not with her. She also recalled getting a fleeting look at the bomber.
Doctors said she could fly back to Israel once she stabilises.
As security forces launched a major hunt for the motorcyclist, police said investigators have found that the bomb was a palm-sized sophisticated magnetic device possibly detonated using a remote sensor.
As the investigation into the Monday terror attack was still unfolding, sources among the investigators said two people could have been involved in executing the bombing.
While the motorcyclist came from behind and stuck a magnetic bomb on the rear door of the Israeli embassy car at a traffic junction and sped away, an accomplice could have triggered the deafening explosion.
Giving the first official sequence of the incident, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said the device exploded within seconds.
The booming noise was heard in a one-kilometre radius, including in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s official residence.
The car immediately caught fire, injuring the Indian driver and two other Indian men in an adjoining car.
While the driver suffered less serious injuries, Koren, who was on her way to fetch her children from the American Embassy School, was badly injured.
“It is very clear that a very well trained person has committed this attack,” Chidambaram told reporters after meeting Delhi Police Commissioner B.K. Gupta.
He said there was “reason to believe that the target was the Israeli diplomat’s wife. Therefore, one has to proceed on the basis that it was a terrorist attack”.
Israel promptly blamed Iran for the attack, which came on the day an attempted attack on the Israeli mission in Georgia was foiled. The two incidents forced Israeli diplomats the world over to switch over to taxis.
Iran angrily denied the accusation but Israel’s ambassador here, Alon Ushpiz, reiterated that Tehran was responsible for the Delhi attack.
India denied it saying it was premature to point fingers at any country. “We have no evidence to name any country. It’s premature to take any country’s name,” Home Secretary R.K. Singh said.
Both Chidambaram and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna did not echo the Israeli accusations against Iran.
In separate comments, both said that India had good relations with “all countries”. Krishna said it was too early to pinpoint who was responsible.
“We will hold our judgement till we get a report,” he said.
Chidambaram said the CCTV cameras in the area were screened. But there was “no clear image of the motorcycle rider or the number plate”.
Indian detectives provided no details officially on their investigation.
A forensic sciences report is expected by Wednesday to determine the nature of the explosives used in the sophisticated magnetic bomb, used in India for the first time.
One source said home grown terrorists sympathetic to the Palestinian cause may have been involved in the attack.
Doctors at Primus hospital have removed shrapnel embedded in Koren’s lungs, spine and liver. Some shrapnel was still in the body but these, doctors said, were harmless.
Israeli institutions have been placed on high alert following the attacks on Israeli personnel in India and Georgia Monday, media reports said.
Israel’s security agencies have reportedly directed all Israeli diplomats not to use their vehicles until these can be inspected.
Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon have spoken to the Israeli ambassador.