Bombing suspect in attack that killed 8 on bus of Israeli tourists was carrying Michigan driver’s licenseJul 19th, 2012 | By Garrison | Category: In the News
SOFIA, Bulgaria – A brazen daytime bombing that killed eight people and injured dozens on a bus full of Israeli tourists was most likely a suicide attack, Bulgaria’s interior minister said Thursday. He said the suspected attacker was carrying a Michigan driver’s license that was being sent to the FBI for authentication.
The Jerusalem Post reports that authorities believe the identification to be fake.
Tsvetan Tsvetanov said the suspected bomber appeared on security camera tape for nearly an hour before the Wednesday attack, which gutted the bus at the airport in the quiet Black Sea resort city of Burgas, some 250 miles east of the capital, Sofia.
The death toll had risen to eight, including the suspected bomber, as the Bulgarian driver of the bus died in the hospital, Tsvetanov said. Six of the victims are Israeli citizens, while the nationality of the suspected bomber remains unknown.
The Israelis had just arrived on a charter flight from Tel Aviv carrying 154 people, including eight children.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised a strong reaction to the attack, which he claimed was carried out by Iran.
The bus was mostly carrying Israeli youth when it exploded near an airport Wednesday. Witnesses told Israeli media that the huge blast occurred soon after someone boarded the vehicle.
An Israeli military plane was preparing to fly back 30 wounded Israelis who had been hospitalized in Burgas. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson said all of the wounded had left the hospital for the airport, some of them on stretchers.
Israeli doctors were to examine two more seriously wounded Israelis to see if their conditions allowed them to fly back to Israel, too, military Dr. David Dagan told Army Radio.
The incident took place in the Black Sea resort city of Burgas, some 250 miles east of the capital, Sofia. Images shown on Israeli media showed smoke billowing from the scene — a parking lot at the area’s airport where tourists had apparently just landed.
This “is an Iranian terror attack that is spreading across the world,” Netanyahu said. “Israel will react strongly to Iran’s terror.”
Burgas Mayor Dimitar Nikolov told Haaretz that explosives were placed in the back of the bus.
The attack comes on the anniversary of a 1994 attack on a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that killed 85 people. Just this morning, relatives of the victims implored the Argentine government to pressure Iran to turn over seven suspects accused in that attack.
The resort town has become a popular travel destination in recent years for Israelis, particularly for recent high school graduates before they are drafted for mandatory military service.
Despite repeated alerts and concerns of an Iranian-backed attack in recent months, Israel said it had no advance intelligence on a pending attack in Bulgaria.
Late Wednesday, Israel announced it was dispatching a military medical and relief team to Bulgaria, a country of 7.3 million bordering Greece and Turkey.
The Burgas airport was closed and traffic redirected. In Sofia, meanwhile, Mayor Yordanka Fandakova ordered a stronger police presence at all public places linked to the Jewish community. There are some 5,000 Jews in Bulgaria and most live in the capital.