(UPDATE: adds a statement by the Georgian Foreign Ministry in eleventh paragraph)
Investigating an attempted car bomb, targeting a local employee of the Israeli embassy in Tbilisi, is of “highest priority” for Georgian law enforcement agencies, Manana Manjgaladze, a spokesperson of the Georgian president, said on February 14.
She declined to comment on details of the ongoing investigation.
In a written statement later on the same day the President’s administration said attempted attack on Israeli embassy employee was considered by Tbilisi as “a serious challenge” to the state, adding that Georgia would use all the means at its disposal to investigate the case.
A Georgian Interior Ministry official said the Georgian law enforcement agencies were closely cooperating with their Israeli counterparts to investigate the case.
On the same day when a local employee of the Israeli embassy in Tbilisi, working as a driver, found an explosive device attached to his Hyundai Getz, a bomb attached to an Israeli embassy car in Indian capital, New Delhi, went off wounding a wife of Israeli diplomat and three other people on February 13.
Police in India said that “a magnetic device” was attached to Israeli embassy car in New Delhi.
Shota Utiashvili, head of the Interior Ministry’s information and analytical department, said this description – “magnetic device” – was also relevant to the explosive device found in Tbilisi.
He told Civil.ge on February 14, that in case of explosion the device would have directly targeted car passengers and probably those in an immediate vicinity of the car, but the device was not powerful enough to damage the embassy even if the car had been parked close to the building, though it was not.
Shortly after the incidents in Tbilisi and New Delhi – dubbed by many media sources as “twin attacks” on Israeli embassies – Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran and its “proxy” Hezbollah of being behind the car explosion in New Delhi and attempted car blast in Tbilisi.
Iran responded by denying allegations as part of Israel’s “psychological warfare” against Tehran, claiming that Israel itself plotted the attacks “to tarnish Iran’s friendly relations” with India and Georgia – Iran has 45-day visa-free travel rules with the latter since January, 2011.
EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, released statements condemning bombing of an Israeli diplomatic vehicle in India and the attempted attack on Israeli embassy personnel in Georgia.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry released a statement late on Tuesday evening "strongly condemning a brutal terrorist attack perpetrated against the Israeli diplomatic vehicle in New Delhi... and the attempted explosion of the vehicle of the Israeli embassy personnel in Tbilisi."
Giorgi Baramidze, the Georgian deputy PM and state minister for Euro-Atlantic integration, tried to downplay linkage between the incidents in Tbilisi and New Delhi, stressing that the explosive device in Tbilisi was found not in an embassy vehicle but in a personal car of a local employee of the Israeli embassy.
“I do not see any reasons for having extraordinary alarm in our country,” Baramidze told journalists on February 14.
Georgia’s three largest nationwide broadcasters – Rustavi 2 TV, Imedi TV and Georgian Public Broadcaster’s (GPB) first channel – initially somewhat ignored the story making first mention about the car bombs only in their evening news programs on February 13. Of these three channels only Rustavi 2 TV made the story top news in its main, 9pm news bulletin on February 13, while two others opened their main news bulletins with other topics – Imedi TV’s top news was possible causes of death of singer Whitney Houston and GPB’s top story was about Greece riots.