At least seven people are dead and a further 20 injured in a possible attack on tourists from Israel at the airport in the city of Burgas in Bulgaria on Wednesday, media in both countries are reporting.
The suspected attack took place in the parking lot in front of the airport near the Black Sea city, a popular tourist destination. The bus reportedly stood in flames following a detonation.
Police confirmed Wednesday they are investigating the incident. The Israeli Foreign Ministry also reported there had been numerous deaths. The bus had been carrying 44 people.
It is not certain if it was a terrorist attack, but Israeli officials believe almost certainly was, given that it took place on the 18th anniversary of terrorist attacks against a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanjahu on Wednesday pointed the finger at Iran and threatened that Israel would respond. "All the signs lead to Iran," he said in a statement. "Only in the past few months we have seen Iranian attempts to attack Israelis in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus and other places."
"Eighteen years exactly after the blast at the Jewish community center in Argentina, murderous Iranian terror continues to hit innocent people," he said. "This is an Iranian terror attack that is spreading throughout the entire world. Israel will react powerfully against Iranian terror."
'I Am Shocked and Saddened'
Meanwhile, Bulgaria's European Commission member, Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva became one of the country's first officials to respond to reports of the attack, writing on Twitter: "I am shocked and saddened by the news about the explosion in Burgas in which there are casualities."
News agencies reported multiple sources at the scene indicating it may have been a suicide attack.
"We think that (it was a suicide bomber)," witness Aviva Malka told Israeli Army Radio, answering a question in a phone interview at the scene. "We sat down and within a few seconds we heard a large boom and we ran away. We managed to escape through a hole on the bus. We saw bodies and many injured people," she said. Other witnesses offered similar information.
The Times of Israel newspaper, meanwhile, is reporting on its website that the bus passengers had landed at Burgas on a flight from Tel Aviv at 4:40 p.m. local time.
Following the apparent attack, officials sealed the airport entirely and redirected flights to Varna. Israeli rescue workers have reportedly already been dispatched to Bulgaria.
The Israeli media is also reporting that Israel's Foreign Ministry has been issuing warnings since January about the possibility of a terrorist attack in Bulgaria. The Jerusalem Post reported that, after a suspicious package had been found on a bus that had transported Israeli tourists from Turkey to Bulgaria, the Israeli government requested additional security for its citizens traveling to the country.
The Israeli government has been concerned that Israeli citizens could be subject to attacks abroad by the radical Islamist Hezbollah. Tourists had been admonished to take extra precautionary measures while traveling in Bulgaria.
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