Iran Suspected in Attack on Israeli Tourists in Bulgaria
A deadly explosion on a
bus carrying Israeli tourists at an airport in Bulgaria is "clearly a
terrorist attack," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said
Wednesday."We have several people killed and dozens of wounded people,"
He said the attack was probably initiated by a group under the auspices
of "either Iran or other radical Muslim groups" and named Hezbollah and
Hamas as likely suspects.
"We are in a continued fight against them. We are determined to identify who sent them, who
executed and to settle the account," Barak said.Vania Valkova, director
of the Bulgarian interior ministry press office, said that at least six
people were killed and about 30 injured in the explosion in a parking
lot outside Burgas Airport, on the Black Sea coast.
Bulgaria's interior minister, who is at the scene, is considering all scenarios, including that of a terrorist attack, she said.
Another spokeswoman for the interior ministry said one possibility is
that an explosive device could have been on the bus, but authorities
cannot be sure of it. A forensic team has begun an investigation at the
scene, but much work remains to be done, she said. One bus was on fire
after the blast. Four people died at the scene and one in the hospital,
the spokeswoman said. It was not clear what happened to the sixth
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed the finger at Iran, saying it has been behind
a string of recent attempted attacks on Israelis in Thailand, India and Georgia, among others.
"All the signs (are) leading to Iran," he said, according to a statement from his office.
Netanyahu said his country "would respond with force to Iranian terror."
Venelin Petkov, a reporter for bTV in Bulgaria, said that three of those
taken to the local hospital were in a critical condition.The Israelis
had just arrived from Tel Aviv and were supposed to go to a beach resort
about 50 kilometers (31 miles) away, he said. Local security expert
Ivan Boyadjiev said on public Bulgarian National Television that Israel
had warned of the possibility of an attack on Israeli citizens in Bulgaria several months ago. He said it was the first such incident he could remember in Bulgaria.
The explosion comes on the 18th anniversary of the attack on a Jewish community center in the
Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were killed. Israeli
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told Israel Radio, "We cannot
confirm yet that this is a terrorist incident, but Iran and Hezbollah
have been responsible for incidents like this in the past." The
tourists' plane landed in Bulgaria at 5 p.m., the Israeli Foreign
Oren Katz, who was on a bus next to the one that blew up, together with his wife and three children, described a bloody scene.
"The moment we got on (the bus), we heard a very loud explosion. It was the third bus next to
us. Everyone started running in all directions. There was a big chaos,"
he said. "We took our children with us and ran as far as we could away
from the explosion. My oldest daughter is handicapped, so I decided to
run back in order to pick up her wheelchair. "There was a big blaze
of fire, and we were not allowed to come near. Suddenly, I noticed an
unconscious woman laying next to me, very close to the burning bus. I
picked her up together with another man, and we managed to drag her out
of the fire that was about to catch her body in seconds. "I cannot
forget the sight of body parts scattered around the bus. Ambulances and
fire trucks have just started to arrive."
Katz, who then ran back to his family so they could get to the safety of
their hotel, said he saw at least six people around him who were
injured and bloodied. "I was not able to see anything of what was
happening inside the bus that exploded. It was burning heavily," he
The travelers were on seven buses outside the terminal; they had arrived on the same flight from Israel, Katz said.
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