Israeli tourist terror: Seven killed in bus bomb attack in Bulgaria (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
The newspaper says seven people were killed in the bombing; five of them Israeli tourists, one of them the Bulgarian bus driver. Authorities estimate that the seventh person who died on board may have been the terrorist who perpetrated the attack. An additional 33 Israelis were wounded in the blast.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that "Iran is responsible for the terror attack in Bulgaria, we will have a strong response against Iranian terror." Defense Minister Ehud Barak also said Iran, Hezbollah or Hamas could be behind the attack.
Hezbollah, however, has denied any involvement in the deadly blast. A representative of the organization told Lebanese daily An-Nashra that Israeli accusations are "laughable".
"Our movement does not fight against tourists", said the Hezbollah member.
The explosion occurred outside the arrivals terminal in Burgas Airport shortly after the victims arrived via a charter flight from Tel Aviv, with 154 people including eight children.
Tourists had boarded three buses, but had not even left the parking lot when one of the buses exploded and two others subsequently caught fire. According to eyewitnesses quoted by Israeli media, some victims were on fire as they tried to escape the flames.
According to the latest reports from the Bulgarian Interior Ministry, the country’s security services have established it was a suicide bomber."We have established a person who was a suicide bomber in this attack. This person had a fake driving license from the United States,"
Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetanov told reporters at the airport of Burgas.
Tsvetanov said security services had managed to obtain DNA samples from the fingers of the bomber and were now checking databases in an attempt to identify him.
Earlier Burgas Mayor Dimitar Nikolov told local media the explosives were placed in the trunk of the bus.
Earlier, some people who witnessed the explosion claimed it happened immediately after someone climbed on board. The mother of one of the tourists who was on the bus said her daughter called her in a panic.
“She sustained cuts and was bleeding, they removed her through the window of the bus. She was hysterical, and is there without a cell phone, so she could not say much.”
The airport in Burgas has been closed, and all flights are being redirected to Varna.
Israeli officials had previously said that Bulgaria, a popular holiday destination for Israeli tourists, was vulnerable to attack by Islamist militants who could infiltrate via nearby Turkey. Local media reported in January that extra police and army troops had been assigned to provide higher levels of security at the Sunny Beach resort, which is very popular with Israelis.
However, several internet sites in Bulgaria reported that government authorities ignored warnings and alerts by Israeli and Russian sources over a possible attack.
Exactly 18 years ago to the day, far-right political organization Hezbollah targeted the Jewish Center in Buenos Aires. As a result, 86 people died in the blast on July 18th 1994.
Image from twitter/@einfal
AFP Photo / BGNES / Biurgas Info
destroyed buses after a bomb explosion at Bourgas airport on July 18, 2012 (AFP PHOTO / Bulfoto)
Police officers stand outside Bulgaria's Burgas airport July 18, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)
Security personnel stand near security tape after an explosion at Bulgaria's Burgas airport July 18, 2012 (Reuters / Impact Press Group)
A Bulgarian policeman with a sniffer dog check for explosives buses after an explosion at Bourgas airport on July 18, 2012 (AFP Photo / Str)
Bulgarian medics help a wounded woman at a hospital after an explosion at Bourgas airport on July 18, 2012 (AFP Photo / Bulfoto)