Tourist Bus Explosion Bulgaria Says Bombing Was Likely a Suicide Attack

Seven people, mainly Israeli tourists, died on Wednesday in an explosion on a bus at the airport of a Bulgarian resort town. Authorities there believe it was likely a suicide attack, while Israel has blamed Iran outright. The suspected bomber's identity has yet to be determined.

AFP

The tourist bus bombing that killed seven people and injured dozens more in Bulgaria on Wednesday afternoon was likely a suicide attack, the country's Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said on Thursday.

Security camera footage has been obtained showing the suspected bomber during the hour prior to the bombing attack, which tore through a bus full of mainly Israeli tourists at an airport in the Black Sea resort town of Burgas on Wednesday afternoon. The FBI and CIA had confirmed that the person was carrying a fake Michigan driver's license, according to Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov, who added that officials planned to release a photo of the suspect.

Six of the seven killed in the bombing were Israelis, who were among more than 100 people who had arrived on a charter flight from Tel Aviv on holiday. Witnesses reported grisly scenes of carnage following the blast.

The attacker's nationality is uncertain, but special forces managed to obtain DNA samples that are being tested.

An Attack on Israel and Bulgaria

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Iran of being behind the attack through its Lebanese proxy, the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah militant group -- a claim Tehran has denied.

"Just in the past few months, we have seen attempts by Iran to harm Israelis in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus and more," Netanyahu said Wednesday, though he offered no evidence for the accusation. "This is an Iranian terror attack that is spreading across the world. Israel will react forcefully to Iran's terror."

Bulgaria's representative on the European Commission, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva described the bombings as an attack against Bulgaria. "Remember how after Sept. 11 Americans united and security was increased," she told Bulgarian state television BNT. "I am sure the same will happen in Bulgaria."

Germany Urges Restraint

In Germany, however, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle warned Israel against assigning blame too quickly. "Now is the time to act responsibly," he told German public broadcaster ARD on Thursday. "That is why we urge restraint."

He added: "We must do everything to ensure that our Israeli visitors can travel everywhere in the European region without fear."

United States President Barack Obama called the bombing "completely outrageous." In a call to Netanyahu he promised that the US would stand by its ally Israel and help bring the perpetrators to justice.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Borisov also called Netanyahu, pledging to help identify and apprehend the culprits behind the attack.

Meanwhile, rescue efforts for the injured continued on Thursday morning when an Israeli plane carrying 33 Israelis injured in the attack took off from Burgas Airport to Tel Aviv. A Bulgarian plane will also fly some 100 Israelis home after they decided to end their vacations early following the attack.

-- kla, with wire reports

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