Bulgaria bombing: ‘Hezbollah’s’ Israeli bus bomber had US papers
THE attack on a bus carrying Israeli tourists which killed seven people was carried out by a suicide bomber, Bulgaria’s interior minister has confirmed.
Iran, meanwhile, denied Israeli claims it was behind the attack on Wednesday at Burgas airport.
Israel said Hezbollah militants, backed by Tehran, were responsible.
CCTV images showed the bomber at the airport, which serves Black Sea coastal resorts.
He is thought to have circled a group of buses which were to take Israeli visitors to the resorts for about an hour, minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said.
“We have established there was a person who was a suicide bomber in this attack. This person had a fake driving licence from the United States, from the state of Michigan,” he added. “He looked like anyone else – a normal person with Bermuda shorts and a backpack.”
The bomber was said to be 36 and had been in Bulgaria for between four and seven days before the attack.
Special forces had managed to obtain DNA samples from the bomber’s fingers and were checking databases in an attempt to identify him.
Seven people died in the attack, including the Bulgarian bus driver and the bomber. The Israeli foreign ministry confirmed five Israelis were killed.
The tourists had arrived in Bulgaria on a charter flight from Israel and were on the bus in the airport car park when the blast tore through the vehicle. Body parts were strewn across the ground, mangled metal hung from the double-deck bus’s ripped roof and black smoke billowed over the airport.
Yesterday, the airport in Burgas – a city of 200,000 people east of capital Sofia – remained closed and police prevented anyone approaching.
“It felt like an earthquake and then I saw flying body parts,” said Georgi Stoev, an airport official. “It was horrible, just like in a horror movie.”
“Yesterday’s attack in Bulgaria was perpetrated by Hezbollah, Iran’s leading terrorist proxy,” Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu said. “We will continue to fight against Iranian terror. It will not defeat us. We will act against it with great force.”
Israel indicated it would not rush to attack Iran or Hezbollah.
Defence minister Ehud Barak said Israel would “do everything possible in order to find those responsible, and those who dispatched them, and punish them” – suggesting covert action against individuals.
Israeli spokesman Mark Regev linked the arrest of a foreigner in Cyprus earlier this month on suspicion of plotting an attack on Israeli tourists on the Mediterranean island with the Bulgaria atrocity.
“The suspect revealed an operational plan that is almost identical to what happened in Bulgaria. He is from Hezbollah … this is a further indication of Hezbollah and Iran’s direct responsibility,” Mr Regev said.
Last week, Cypriot authorities said they had arrested a 24-year-old man on suspicion of planning terror attacks.
Cypriot radio said the suspect was of Lebanese origin and was carrying a Swedish passport.
Iran’s foreign ministry dismissed Israel’s “baseless accusations” that Tehran was directly involved.
The blast occurred on the 18th anniversary of a bomb attack on Argentina’s main Jewish organisation that killed 85 people.
Argentina blamed Iran, which denied responsibility.
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