Bulgaria Names Hizbullah in Bus Bombing

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed on Tuesday a Bulgarian report linking Hizbullah to a fatal bus bombing, saying the Lebanese group and its ally Iran were waging a “global terror campaign.”

Netanyahu said the Bulgarian probe into the 2012 attack in the Black Sea city of Burgas which killed five Israeli tourists was “further confirmation of what we already knew, that Hizbullah and its patron, Iran, are waging a global terror campaign across borders and continents.”

“The attack in Burgas was an attack on European soil against a member of the European Union. We hope the Europeans will draw the necessary conclusions about the true character of Hizbullah,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

Three people were involved in the attack, two of whom had genuine passports from Australia and Canada, Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov told reporters after Sofia’s national security council discussed the investigation.

“There is data showing the financing and connection between Hizbullah and the two suspects,” Tsvetanov said.

“What can be established as a well-grounded assumption is that the two persons whose real identity has been determined belonged to the military wing of Hizbullah.”

The Netherlands considers Hizbullah a terrorist group and said in August that the EU should also do so, which would mean Brussels could act to freeze Hizbullah assets in Europe.

Britain reserves the designation for Hizbullah’s armed wing, but other EU member states, which have blacklisted Hamas, have resisted U.S. and Israeli pressure to do the same to Hizbullah.

Bulgaria, a member of the EU and NATO, has repeatedly said the bombing was plotted elsewhere and carried out by foreigners. Even so, that attack stoked tension in a country where Muslims make up some 15 percent of the 7.3 million population.

All three people involved in the attack had fake U.S. driving licences that were printed in Lebanon, Tsvetanov said. The two suspects with Canadian and Australian passports had been living in Lebanon, one since 2006 and the other since 2010.

No one has been arrested in connection with the attack and Tsvetanov said he hoped Australia, Canada and Lebanon would cooperate with the continuing investigation.