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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Israel accuses Iran over Cyprus alleged hitman plot


Israel has accused Iran of plotting to kill Israelis in Cyprus after police there arrested a man suspected of being hired to carry out the attacks.

According to the Israeli prime minister’s office, “an act of terror… was orchestrated by Iran against Israeli businesspeople” on the island.

His office denied media reports that he was the target of an assassination attempt on Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi.

Iran, Israel’s arch-foe, has denied Israel’s allegations.

“This regime is always making such baseless allegations against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the Iranian embassy in Cyprus’s capital, Nicosia, said in a statement to Reuters.

According to local media, the suspect, a 38-year-old Azeri with a Russian passport, was apprehended in Nicosia a week ago after crossing from Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus.

According to reports, he arrived from Russia about three weeks ago and was being watched by police. According to Cypriot media, he was arrested with a gun with a silencer in his car, though police have not confirmed the details of the case.

There have been conflicting reports about who might have been a target. According to some reports in Israeli and Cypriot media, Mr Sagi was one of several Israeli businesspeople on a hit list.

The Israeli prime minister’s office and Mr Sagi’s company, the Sagi Group, both denied that the tycoon was a potential victim.

“This is an Iranian terrorist incident that was foiled,” the company said in a statement. “The assassination target is not Teddy Sagi, but Israelis in Cyprus. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to publish incorrect information and tarnish someone’s reputation.”

According to other Israeli media reports, the plot may be related to Mr Sagi’s business ventures, which include online gambling and real estate.

Previously, Israel has accused Iran or its ally Hezbollah of carrying out or planning to carry out attacks on Israelis living abroad. Cyprus convicted a Hezbollah member of plotting an attack on Israelis there in 2012. In the same year, Bulgaria and Israel accused Hezbollah of carrying out a suicide bombing in Sofia that killed five Israelis and one Bulgarian.

Iran and Hezbollah have both denied any involvement in the incidents.

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