A bomb targeting Israeli tourists in the eastern Bulgarian city of Burgas detonated on a tour bus, killing at least 7 people and injuring 32 on Wednesday.
The bus was carrying 42 Israeli tourists who landed in Bulgaria at 4:45 p.m for a vacation in Sunny Beach. Two adjacent buses were also damaged in the blast.As recently as January, Bulgarian police had stepped up security measures for Israeli tour groups after a suspicious package was discovered on a bus carrying tourists from Turkey to Bulgaria.
Six of the victims died on the spot, and the seventh in the hospital following the attack, Bulgarian officials confirmed. Two of the victims were said to be Bulgarian -- the bus driver and tour guide
Local officials belive the device was detonated via remote control, although witnesses at the airport told Israeli TV they had seen an unidentified man get on immediately before the bus exploded.
Citing recent Iranian-backed terror plots targetting Israeli and western interests in Thailand, India and Azerbaijan, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran and the Lebanese-based Shi'ite terrorist group Hezbollah. For its part, Iran has accused Israeli agents of carrying out assassinations of scientists working with their nuclear program.
Over the weekend, police in Cyprus arrested a Lebanese man holding a Swedish passport in the city of Limasol. While in custody, the man admitted to being a member of Hezbollah and had detailed information on flights arrivign from Israel and photos of possible Israeli tagerts.
Carrying out attacks on Israeli tagets on foreign soil is nothing new for Hezbollah. The Bulgarian attacks come on the 18th anniversary of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association bombings in Buenos Aires that killed 84. There are reports that Argentine prosecutors have recently discovered that some of those involved in the 1994 bombing were using Iranian diplomatic credentials to travel and plan out the details of the attack.
The resort town of Burgas has become popular with Israeli visitors in recent years, particularly recent high school grads seeking out a 'spring break' type getaway before beginning their compulsory military service.
UPDATE- 7/19: Bulgaria's Interior Ministry said the attack was most likely a suicide bombing. The suspected bomber was caught on survaillence video in the terminal at the Bargas airport.
Interior minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said that investigators have found a Michigan ID at the scene thought to belong to the suspected bomber. The Interior Ministry is sending the identification to the FBI for authentication.
UPDATE #2- Bulgarian officials are now saying the Michigan identification card in fake, but some reports also claim a US Passport belonging to the suspected bomber was also found at the scene but has yet to be authenticated.