Six killed in Bulgaria suicide attack on Israelis

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A truck carries the bus damaged by the suicide bomb blast which targeted a group of Israeli tourists at Burgas airport in Bulgaria. Bulgaria has released video footage of a man it suspects carried out a suicide attack on a bus full of Israeli tourists that killed six people and left three seriously injured.

Bulgaria released on Thursday video footage of a man it suspects carried out a suicide attack on a bus full of Israeli tourists that killed six people and left three seriously injured.

US President Barack Obama called the blast on a bus at Burgas airport on Wednesday, the deadliest against Israelis abroad since 2004, a "barbaric terrorist attack" as Israel blamed Iran and Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.

"The suicide bomber, wearing shorts and carrying a backpack, looked like any other tourist," Bulgaria's interior minister said.

The video shows a white man with long blond hair -- possibly a wig -- wearing sunglasses and wandering around the airport.

Tsvetan Tsvetanov said the man looked to be aged around 26. The authorities had his fingerprints and were testing for DNA with the help of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), he said.

"His travel document was a fake driving licence from the (US) state of Michigan ... (His) identity has not yet been established," the minister said.

The explosion ripped through the bus as around 50 Israeli tourists arriving from Tel Aviv on a plane carrying 154 people were loading their bags and boarding before travelling to a nearby Black Sea holiday and gambling resort.

Five of the tourists died at the scene while the vehicle's Bulgarian driver died in hospital, officials said, revising downwards an earlier toll of six killed plus the bomber.

The attack also wounded some 30 people, three of them seriously.

Witnesses described how panicked passengers jumped from bus windows and bodies lay strewn on the ground with their clothes torn off as ambulance sirens wailed and black smoke rose over the airport.

"We are facing a global wave of terror... the attack in Burgas was led by members of Hezbollah and sponsored by Iran," Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak told public radio.

"The Al-Qaeda and Islamic Jihad networks also operate globally," he added, citing a long list of recent attacks or attempted attacks on Israelis around the world including in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya and Cyprus.

The US "will stand with our allies, and provide whatever assistance is necessary to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of this attack," said Obama, who expressed his condolences to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli premier.

Iranian state television said Israel's "ridiculous" accusations were "aimed at creating an anti-Iranian atmosphere" amid rising tensions over Tehran's suspected nuclear weapons drive.

"The Islamic republic, the biggest victim of terrorism, believes terrorism endangers the lives of innocents... is inhumane and so strongly condemns" it, foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on television.

The bomber struck on the 18th anniversary of an attack on a Jewish community centre in Argentina that killed 85 people, also blamed on Iran.

Wednesday's attack also drew strong condemnation from France, Britain, Russia and others.

 
Map of Bulgaria locating the Sarafovo airport in Burgas, where an exlosion ripped through a bus.

Except for three people transferred to the capital Sofia, the other injured were taken to Burgas airport on Thursday morning amid a heavy police presence, to be flown home to Israel, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

They included a pregnant woman and a girl of around seven or eight years old who was carrying her flip-flop because her right foot was wrapped in bandages.

Around half of the injured were teenagers. Many were brought out to the ambulances in wheelchairs with many having sustained burns and flesh wounds on their legs and arms. Some still had blood-stained holiday clothes on.

Around 20 Israeli paramedics arrived overnight to help treat the wounded. Apart from the flight back to Israel, Burgas airport remained closed on Thursday morning.

The Israeli foreign ministry said 34 people wounded in the blast were being flown back to Israel. The bodies were also being repatriated.

On Thursday the charred skeleton of the bus was loaded onto a truck and taken away, as was an adjacent bus that also caught fire and which had a large blood stain down its side.

Israel and former communist Bulgaria, which has a 13-percent Muslim population, enjoy good relations and the Black Sea coast has become a popular holiday spot for Israelis, with almost 140,000 visiting the country in 2011.

In January, Israeli public television reported that authorities in European Union member Bulgaria had foiled a bomb attack when they found an explosive device on a bus chartered to take Israeli tourists to a ski resort.

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