Israel blames Iran for bus bombing

Thu, Jul 19, 2012, 01:00

Israel has blamed Iranian-backed Hizbullah for a suicide bomb attack yesterday that killed eight people in a bus transporting Israeli tourists at a Bulgarian airport.

"We have established a person who was a suicide bomber in this attack. This person had a fake driving licence from the United States," Bulgarian interior minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov told reporters at the airport of Burgas, a city on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast.

Mr Tsvetanov said special forces had managed to obtain DNA samples from the fingers of the bomber and were now checking databases in an attempt to identify him.

He said Bulgarian security services had received no indications of a pending terrorist attack in the Balkan country. Video surveillance in front of the airport and the investigation showed the bomber could not be distinguished among arriving Israeli tourists. "He looked like everybody else - a normal person with Bermuda shorts and a backpack," he said.

The interior ministry said the eight dead included the Bulgarian driver of the bus and the bomber. About 30 lightly injured Israeli tourists will be flown back to Israel in the coming hours, Mr Tsvetanov said.

Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak said the Tehran-backed Lebanese Shia Muslim group Hizbullah carried out the bombing. "The immediate executors are Hizbullah people, who of course have constant Iranian sponsorship," Mr Barak told Israel Radio.

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 double-decker.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran was behind the attack and that "Israel will react powerfully againstIranian terror." There was no immediate Iranian reaction to the Israeli accusation.

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 Turkey.

The blast occurred on the 18th anniversary of a bomb attack at the headquarters of Argentina's main Jewish organisation that killed 85 people and the Argentine government blamed on Iran, which denied responsibility.