>Israel blames Iran for suicide attack
>8 killed, over 30 injured
>Israeli rescue teams rush to Bulgaria
>El Al cancels flights
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife with BosNewsLife News Center in Budapest and reports from the region
BURGAS/JERUSALEM/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)– Israel has blamed Iran for a suicide terrorist attack on a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Bulgaria which killed as many as eight people people and injured more than 30 others.
The blast Wednesday, July 18, rocked a passenger bus at an airport in the Black Sea resort city of Burgas, authorities confirmed.
Bulgaria’s normally peaceful Burgas turned into a war zone after the bomb blast, some 400 kilometers east of the capital, Sofia, with body parts seen across the ground and mangled metal hung from the bus’s torn-back roof.
Its windows were blown out and clouds of dense black smoke billowed above the area.
The explosion happened shortly after Israelis arrived on a charter flight from Tel Aviv carrying 154 people, including eight children.
Survivors, who were seen comforting each other, some of them injured, said Israelis were just boarding when the blast ripped through the white vehicle in the airport parking lot.
“I was in the bus and wanted to smoke and went outside. And I saw the bomb [explosion],” added an elderly man who was lucky to have survived.
The bus was the second of four carrying Israeli tourists from the airport, and the blast also damaged two of the other buses, witnesses said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran was behind the blast and warned Tehran that Israel would retaliate.
“All the signs lead to Iran. Only in the past few months we have seen Iranian attempts to attack Israelis in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus and other places,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
“Eighteen years exactly after the blast at the Jewish community centre in Argentina, murderous Iranian terror continues to hit innocent people. This is an Iranian terror attack that is spreading throughout the entire world. Israel will react powerfully against Iranian terror,” he added.
His Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, said the list of suspects include Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants. “This is clearly a terrorist attack probably initiated by Hezbollah, Hamas, Jihad or any other group under the terror auspices of either Iran or other radical Muslim groups,” he said.
A suicide bomber committed the attack that killed eight people, Bulgaria’s interior minister explained Thursday, July 19. “We have established a person who was a suicide bomber in this attack. This person had a fake driving licence from the United States,” Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov told reporters at Burgas airport.
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.
Israeli media have criticized Israel’s government over what is seen as an intelligence failure. Bulgaria’s president President Rosen Plevneliev told local media that Bulgarian authorities met with members of Israel’s secret service Mossad a month ago, but received no warning of an expected attack in the area.
BUS IN FLAMES
Government officials rushing to the scene were confronted with human suffering.
Israeli media quoted an Israeli witness as saying that several buses were impacted by the blast, but “that the one carrying Israelis across terminals in the airport blew up and went up in flames.”
“There was a large explosion,” added another witness, Cliff Andrews, speaking by telephone from the airport area to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
Israel was closely monitoring the situation with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman speaking by phone with his Bulgarian counterpart, Nickolay Evtimov Mladenov, who was also on his way to the scene of the explosion, Israeli media said.
Burgas Airport soon closed, with flights redirected to airport of Varna, Bulgarian police explained, adding that 10 fire trucks were fighting the blaze.
EL AL FLIGHTS
Israel’s El Al airline flight LY551 to Sofia and its flight LY552 to Tel Aviv were “delayed”, because of the attack, the Israel Airports Authority said, adding that there may be delays in other flights scheduled to take off from Ben Gurion International Airport. Travelers were advised to check with the airlines when and if flights will resume to and from Bulgaria.
However Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported on its website that Israel’s rescue teams were on their way to Bulgaria, with a crew of doctors and paramedics to treat the wounded Israelis in Bulgaria, apparently with alternative flights.
The Jewish state’s Disaster Victim Identification unit was also slated to send a crew.
Eighteen Israelis were rushed to a local hospital, but doctors added that they expected more to arrive, according to Bulgarian media.
Haaretz quoted Israel Police as saying that they were being updated on the situation by Israel’s Foreign Ministry and Israeli police units in Eastern Europe.
The explosion resembled a less bloody attack several years ago at Hungary’s main international airport in Budapest, which also targeted Jewish tourists.
(This is a BosNewsLife BREAKING NEWS update which began Wednesday and has been regular updated; stay with BosNewsLife for this developing story. Parts of this BosNewsLife News story also airs via the English Worldnews service of Vatican Radio.)