Bulgaria Implicates Hezbollah In 2012 Burgas Bus Bombing

Bulgaria Hezbollah 020513

The Bulgarian government on Tuesday accused Lebanese militant group Hezbollah of carrying out the deadly bus bombing that resulted in the death of seven people, including five Israeli tourists, in July 2012.

Apart from the five Israeli tourists, the Bulgarian driver of the bus as well as the suspected suicide bomber were also killed in the bombing, which took place in the Black Sea resort of Burgas on July 18. In addition, more than 30 people were injured in the explosion.

The finding's of the six-month-long investigation into the deadly bombing was made public by the Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov at a press conference in the capital city of Sophia on Tuesday.

Addressing reporters after Bulgaria's national security council discussed the investigation, Tsvetanov said the probe has concluded that three individuals with links to Hezbollah, including the suicide bomber, were involved in the bus bombing.

Noting that the two surviving suspects were holders of genuine passports from Australia and Canada, Tsvetanov said: "We have established that the two were members of the militant wing of Hezbollah. There is data showing the financing and connection between Hezbollah and the two suspects.

"What can be established as a well-grounded assumption is that the two persons whose real identity has been determined belonged to the military wing of Hezbollah," he stated.

The Bulgarian minister said the two surviving suspects had been living in Lebanon, one since 2006 and the other since 2010, and noted that all the three suspects involved in the attack had fake U.S. driving licenses printed in Lebanon.

Acknowledging that no one has been arrested so far in connection with the Burgas bus bombing, Tsvetanov expressed hopes that the governments of Australia, Canada and Lebanon would co-operate actively with the ongoing investigation.

Incidentally, Europol, which helps in coordinating national police across the 27-nation European Union, had sent 50 of its officers to Bulgaria to assist in the Burgas bombing investigation.

Soon after Tsvetanov made the probe's findings public, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the outcome of the investigation confirmed earlier Israeli claims that Hezbollah was "directly responsible for the heinous act in Burgas."

The Israeli PM said in a statement that the Bulgarian findings were "further confirmation of what we already knew, that Hezbollah and its patron, Iran, are waging a global terror campaign across borders and continents".

"The attack in Burgas was an attack on European soil against a member of the European Union. We hope the Europeans will draw the necessary conclusions about the true character of Hezbollah," he added.

Israel has been blaming the Hezbollah and its staunchest ally Iran for the bombing ever since it took place six months ago. While Iran has consistently denied any involvement in the attack, Hezbollah is yet to respond to the allegations.

Notably, Israel, the Netherlands and the United States consider the Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization, while Britain has designated only Hezbollah's armed wing as a terrorist outfit. Although other EU member-states have designated the Palestinian militant group as a terrorist organization, they are yet to list Hezbollah under the same label despite intense pressure from the U.S. and Israel.

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