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Bulgaria bus blast kills six

July 18, 2012

Six Israeli tourists were killed and at least 32 wounded in a bus explosion in the Bulgarian city of Burgas. The Israeli government suspects that Iran is behind the attack.

A burnt bus is seen at Bulgaria's Burgas airport July 18, 2012
Image: Reuters

The bus carried mostly tourists who had arrived on a flight from Tel Aviv to the Black Sea port city of Burgas, a popular holiday destination for Israelis.

It is not clear how the explosive device got on the bus, but Bulgaria's interior minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, said on national radio BNR that it was a deliberate attack.

The police were investigating two possible causes of the blast - that a device was put on the bus before boarding or that explosives were in the tourists' luggage - the radio quoted Tsvetanov as saying.

Smoke is seen after a blast at Bulgaria's Burgas airport July 18, 2012
It's not clear yet how the explosives got on boardImage: Reuters

Netanyahu blames Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran for Wednesday's attack, saying in a statement that "all the signs lead to Iran. Only in the past few months we have seen Iranian attempts to attack Israelis in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus and other places."

"This is an Iranian terror attack that is spreading throughout the entire world. Israel will react powerfully against Iranian terror," he said.

Israeli diplomats have been targeted in several countries in recent months by bombers who Israel said struck on behalf of Iran.

Israeli officials had warned tourists that Bulgaria was vulnerable to attack by Islamist militants who could infiltrate via nearby Turkey.

International dismay

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle condemned the attack, insisting that "the perpetrators have to be found and brought to account for this terrible act."

"We have to do everything we can to ensure that our Israeli guests can travel anywhere in the European Union without being afraid," he added.

The White House also condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms," spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

He said US President Barack Obama's "thoughts and prayers" were with the victims.

The blast came on the anniversary of an attack on a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1994 that killed 85 people and wounded 300. The Iran-backed Hezbollah was blamed for the attack. Iran has denied any involvement.

ng/mkg (Reuters, AP, dpa, AFP)