Burgas bombing: It was Hezbollah?
Israel's Channel 2 has announced that the Bulgarian foreign minister's report to Israel shows that Hezbollah was responsible for the Burgas bombing last year. Bulgarian sources disagree.
In a surprise visit to Israeli yesterday, it has been reported that the Bulgarian foreign minister, Nikolay Mladenov, shared a report implicating Hezbollah in the bombing in Bulgaria last July.
The terror attack, in Bulgaria's Black Sea city of Burgas has been confirmed to be the work of the Iran-backed Hezbollah.
The announcement was been made by the Israeli TV Channel 2 in the aftermath of news that Bulgaria's Foreign Minister, Nikolay Mladenov, has been on a secret visit to Israel. Sources said Mladenov held top-secret meetings about the attack with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, as well as with National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror.
A Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman has only said the issue of the probe was discussed in the meetings. "Results of the investigation will be made public once it is completed and Bulgaria has enough evidence to back it up," she added.
The Israeli Channel 2 further commented that Bulgarian Interior Minister,Tsvetan Tsvetanov also left the country to brief European leaders about the results of the investigation in the attack.
The Interior Ministry's press office reported Thursday that Tsvetanov was in Dublin for talks with European Union ministers and was expected to update Bulgaria's EU allies with the latest news. This has been interpreted as a step ahead in the effort to have the EU declare that the attack was masterminded by Hezbollah.
The attack, at the Burgas Sarafovo airport, killed 5 Israeli tourists, their Bulgarian bus driver and the perpetrator of the attack.
Israel was quick to blame Hezbollah and its state sponsor, Iran, for the attack, but the Bulgarians have not yet issued their final report on the matter, due to be released either next week in early February.
The conclusions of the report are expected to have a significant impact on whether the EU finally adds Hezbollah to its list of terrorist organisations, something the US has already done and which Israel has been pushing for more than a decade. The move would likely lead to the freezing of assets of Hezbollah in Europe, a move that would cripple a lot of its fundraising abilities.
Further reports state that the Bulgarian report will be published in five days and that Europol has identified three of the four suspects in the attack who entered Bulgaria two and a half weeks beforehand and apparently used fake IDs.
Mladenov's "clandestine" trip was revealed by international media noting that Israeli officials were tight-lipped Thursday about Mladenov's brief on Buglaria's probe into last July's Burgas bombing.
"An attack on Israel is like an attack on Bulgaria and our friendship with you is firm and strong," Mladenov is quoted as saying.
UPDATE (16:09) - Fresh reports citing the Bulgarian foreign ministry have asserted that Hezbollah had no hand in the bombings, but rather that the suspect had Al Qaeda links.
The news comes on the day that Hezbollah has bizarrely been reported to have slammed state-sponsored terrorism, noting the rebels in Syria as an example.
The group said in a statement that the explosions that hit Aleppo and Idlib this week, killing and wounding hundreds of innocent civilians, revealed the 'dark reality of the gangs and their criminality'.
“Along with these gangs, those responsible for these acts are states that are fostering chaos in Syria through providing the killers with all forms of military, financial and political aid.”
Hezbollah said that similar explosions are targeting Iraqi cities, killing dozens. The party said that these attacks aim at destroying the future of Iraq and Syria through targeting youth.
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