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Israeli leader Netanyahu blames Iran for Bulgaria bus bombing

July 18, 2012 |  1:17 pm

Bulgaria

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran for a Wednesday bombing attack on an Israeli tourist bus in Bulgaria that claimed at least six lives and injured dozens.

"In the past months we saw Iranian attempts to attack Israelis in Thailand, India, Kenya and Cyprus," Netanyahu said, adding, "This is an Iranian terror offensive that is spreading throughout the world." 

Netanyahu offered no specific evidence to back up his claim that "all signs point to Iran." There was no immediate response from Tehran. The Islamic militant group Hezbollah reportedly denied any connection to the attack.

At least six people died and more than 30 were injured when an explosion hit a bus that officials said was carrying 154 people, most of them Israeli tourists, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday. The death toll was higher than that reported earlier by Israeli officials, who had said at least three people were killed.

The blast occurred at the airport in Burgas, a popular destination for Israeli vacationers. The tourists arrived from Tel Aviv on a charter flight Wednesday afternoon. Two more buses were set on fire by the blast, but those blazes were extinguished, the Bulgarian News Agency reported.

“Bulgarian authorities are working on the theory that this was a terrorist attack,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The airport was shut down as the explosion was investigated.

Israeli security officials ordered Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport to postpone flights to 11 locations in Eastern Europe, Israeli media reported.

Israel had advised citizens not to go to Bulgaria this year, warning that a terrorist attack might be in the works against Israelis there. Bulgarian authorities reportedly foiled another attempted attack this year, detecting an explosive device on a bus meant for Israeli tourists.

In his statement, Netanyahu noted that the attack fell on the 18th anniversary of the bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina that killed 85 people. Iran has denied involvement in that attack.

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: Bulgarian medics help a wounded woman at a hospital after an explosion at Burgas airport on Wednesday. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

 

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