The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has condemned the bus bomb attack in Burgas that killed seven “in the strongest possible terms,” while EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said she was “shocked” and “appalled”.
“The terrorists who planned and carried out this attack must be brought to justice,” Ashton added.
In Washington, President Barack Obama said in a statement that he strongly condemned the “barbaric terrorist attack on Israelis in Bulgaria”.
Six of the seven victims were Israeli holidaymakers. The other two were the Bulgarian bus driver and the suicide bomber.
“All signs point to Iran,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “In the past few months, we have seen attempts by Iran to harm Israelis in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus and more. This is an Iranian terror attack that is spreading across the world. Israel will react forcefully to Iran’s terror.”
Pending more information, most Western countries have declined to point fingers. Britain’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, offered his condolences, adding that “the full tragedy of the attacks is not yet clear.”
On a different note, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov on Thursday urged Israeli tourists to continue holidaying in Bulgaria, stating that Wednesday’s terror attack was a one-off incident.
Mladenov stressed that the attack was the first of its kind in the country, and that Bulgaria was “one of the friendliest nations” to Israelis. He added that if Israelis stopped visiting Bulgaria following the attack, “this is what the terrorists want to achieve.”
Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev said that the Bulgarian authorities met with members of Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, a month ago, but had received no warning of an expected attack, Sofia News Agency reported.
The Bulgarian authorities would have taken more precautions had they received advanced warning of a terror attack, the President added.
An Israeli Police forensics team has begun the task of identifying the casualties from the bomb attack.
The team, made up of eight members, including field forensic officers and a dentist, are at the scene of the explosion to identify the remains of the victims.
Earlier, the Bulgarian Interior Minister said that a suicide bomber appeared to have been responsible for the attack.
“We have established a person who was a suicide bomber in this attack. This person had a fake driving licence from the United States,” Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said. The suspect appeared on security camera tape near the bus for nearly an hour before the attack.
Tsvetanov said the death toll rose to eight after the Bulgarian driver of the bus died in the hospital. The nationality of the suicide bomber remains unknown.
According to the Interior Ministry website, the police presence in Burgas has been increased and security raised at the hotels where Israeli tourists are staying.
The airport remains closed, with flights redirected to Varna.