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News | Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Blames Iran for 7 Dead in Bulgaria Blast

by DAN GEIST

18 Jul 2012 23:55Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Any views expressed are the authors' own. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

BurgasBlastBusCloseup.jpg11:55 p.m. IRDT, 28 Tir/July 18 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed that "all signs point to Iran" as the culprit in the deaths of at least seven people, most of them Israelis, in Bulgaria on Wednesday afternoon. The majority of the victims had just arrived in the Black Sea city of Burgas, about 250 miles from the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, on a flight from Tel Aviv; they were killed in a blast that struck one of seven buses filled with tourists from the flight in the parking area of Sarafovo Airport around 5:30 p.m. local time. Bulgarian media outlets have reported that one of those killed was a local tour guide. More than 30 people have been hospitalized.

According to the Sofia News Agency, Burgas Mayor Dimitar Nikolov has stated that the blast was caused by a bomb placed in the baggage compartment of the bus, which was reportedly filled with teenagers. The flames from the explosion shot five meters high, according to eyewitness accounts.

Recalling the series of bomb plots against Israeli targets in India, Georgia, and Thailand earlier this year that have been linked to Iran, Netanyahu declared that "this is an Iranian terror attack that is spreading across the world" and that "Israel will react strongly to Iran's terror."

Characterizing the explosion as "clearly a terrorist attack," Israeli Defense Minister surmised that it was perpetrated under the auspices of "either Iran or other radical Muslim groups." Identifying Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah as prime suspects, he stated, "We are in a continued fight against them. We are determined to identify who sent them, who executed and to settle the account." The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports on its English-language website that "Hezbollah denies any connection to Bulgaria bus attack."

The deadly explosion took place on the anniversary of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and injured more than 300. Although no one has ever been convicted in the case, in 2006, Argentine prosecutors formally charged Hezbollah with carrying out the bombing under the direction of the Iranian government.

In January, the Israeli Transportation Ministry requested that Bulgarian authorities increase security for the many Israelis who visit the country after a suspicious package was found on a bus carrying Israeli tourists from Turkey to Bulgaria. Dan Shenar, the ministry's security chief, said at the time, "Two days ago I got in touch with my colleagues in Sofia and asked them to tighten security measures around buses carrying groups of Israeli tourists between airports and hotels or vacation houses. We are well aware that buses are a weak spot in regards to security." Following the explosion on Wednesday, Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova ordered increased police protection for all public locations linked to the capital's Jewish community.

As of press time, Iran's primary state-controlled online English-language news outlet, the Press TV website, was carrying only a very brief item -- three sentences long -- on the blast.

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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