SOFIA: Bulgaria has given Europol the names of two of the people suspected in a fatal bus bombing last year, in the hope that the police agency can trace their movements and uncover how they financed the attack, the country’s interior minister said Tuesday.
Bulgaria has also requested that Lebanese authorities arrest and extradite the two suspects, who are believed to be living in Lebanon, an official said.
The July 18 blast killed five Israeli tourists at the airport in the Black Sea resort of Burgas as well as a Bulgarian bus driver and the presumed bomber.
Three men are suspected in the attack, including the dead bomber. The latter’s identity has not been established. The names of the two other suspects, believed to still be alive, have not been released to the public.
An official Bulgarian report last week, however, said investigators had “well-grounded reasons to suggest” that the two belonged to the military wing of Hezbollah.
The report said they have been living in Lebanon for years, one with a Canadian passport and the other with an Australian one.
Israel has accused Iran, which is said to support Hezbollah, of involvement. Both Iran and Hezbollah have denied any role.
Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov met with Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday. Europol coordinates national police forces across the European Union.
Tsvetanov told the Associated Press that Bulgaria hopes Europol can help provide “a thorough check and analysis [that] will help find new facts about the terrorist act.”
By including the names in Europol’s database, Tsvetanov said, Bulgaria hopes to determine if the suspects resided in any other EU country and whether any other agencies had information about them.
He also announced that a team of Bulgarian experts would soon go to The Hague to join Europol’s investigation.
The identity of the dead suspect who died in the bombing remains unknown even though his DNA samples have been shared with foreign intelligence agencies.
In Sofia, Stanimir Florov, head of an anti-terror unit, said Tuesday that there is “categorical” evidence that the man was not a suicide bomber. Authorities suspect that either he detonated the bomb accidentally or a colleague did so remotely.
“If he was a kamikaze, he would have entered the bus packed with 47 passengers and blown himself up, causing a huge death toll,” Florov told Bulgarian National Radio.
Florov also said Bulgaria has officially requested that Lebanese authorities arrest and extradite the suspects to Bulgaria, but added that “so far there are no signs of possible cooperation from Lebanon.”
Bulgaria’s announcement of the alleged involvement of two Hezbollah members in the Burgas bus bombing has renewed calls on the EU to declare the party a “terrorist” organization.
Speaking to The Daily Star Monday, Head of the Delegation of the EU to Lebanon Angelina Eichhorst said placing Hezbollah on Europe’s terror list was not an imminent decision as it would require the endorsement of all 27 member states.