The ruins of a tour bus that was bombed in Burgas, Bulgaria, in July. Five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian driver were killed. Bulgarian investigators confirmed Israel's suspicion that Hezbollah was behind the attack. (Nikolay Doychinov / AFP/Getty Images / February 6, 2013)
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Bulgarian investigators said Tuesday that the Lebanese group Hezbollah was responsible for a July bus bombing that killed five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian bus driver in the Black Sea resort of Burgas, as Israel had asserted.
The announcement was certain to heighten pressure on the European Union to join Israel and the United States in labeling Hezbollah a terrorist group, allowing law enforcement agents in Europe to seize assets, restrict travel and arrest members.
Bulgarian officials said two of the three suspects in the attack entered the country with Canadian and Australian passports.
"We have well-grounded reasons to suggest that the two were members of the militant wing of Hezbollah," Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov told reporters. "We expect the government of Lebanon to assist in the further investigation."
Tsvetanov said evidence showed that the men received funding and instructions from Hezbollah. One of the attackers died in the bombing.
Hezbollah, which is part of the ruling coalition government in Lebanon, has denied any role in the attack.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the findings bolstered his country's long-standing call to ostracize Hezbollah and its financial backer, Iran.
"This is yet a further corroboration of what we have already known, that Hezbollah and its Iranian patrons are orchestrating a worldwide campaign of terror that is spanning countries and continents," Netanyahu said in a statement. "We hope the Europeans draw the necessary conclusions regarding the true nature of the Hezbollah."
The Bulgaria attack was widely seen as part of the shadow war between Israel and Iran. Israel has accused Iran of planning and orchestrating attacks against its citizens in numerous countries, including Thailand, Kenya, India and Georgia. Iran accuses Israel of covertly assassinating several of its nuclear researchers and sabotaging its nuclear facilities.
Bulgarian officials did not link Iran to the bombing.
Source: The Los Angeles Times | Edmund Sanders