AN Australian citizen was part of a Hezbollah-backed terror cell that carried out the bombing that killed five Israeli tourists in Bulgaria last year, it has been revealed.
An Australian with connections to the Hezbollah militant group is one of the key suspects in a bombing that killed five Israelis and a local bus driver at an airport at a Black Sea resort last year, the Bulgarian Government announced overnight.
Releasing the results of its investigation into the July 18 bus bombing in the coastal town of Burgas, Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said one of the suspects entered Bulgaria on an Australian passport, and another with one from Canada.
All three people involved in the attack had fake US drivers licenses that had been printed in Lebanon, while the two travelling on Australian and Canadian passports had lived in Lebanon since 2006 and 2010 respectively, the Agence France-Presse news agency quoted Mr Tsvetanov as saying.
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In the first insight into the July 18 bombing that killed the tourists, their Bulgarian bus driver and injured 30 others, authorities have revealed a suspected terrorist entered the country with an Australian passport and may have carried the bomb in a rucksack into the bus.
Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said a second suspect from the terror cell entered the country on a Canadian passport.
“We have well-grounded reasons to suggest that the two were members of the militant wing Hezbollah,” Mr Tsvetanov said yesterday.
“We expect the government of Lebanon to assist in the further investigation.”
He also called on Australian authorities to assist in their inquiries.
Initially it was believed the suspect was acting as a suicide bomber but it has now been revealed the bomb they were carrying was detonated by remote control.
The bomb exploded as the bus took a group of Israeli tourists from the airport to their hotel in the Black Sea resort of Burgas.
The bomber, described as a tall and lanky pale-skinned man posing as a tourist, also died in the blast.
The Australian was possibly a dual Lebanese-Australian national. According to authorities, there was evidence he was paid to carry out the attack by Hezbollah.
Europol, which helps coordinate policing among its 27 member states and select ovearseas partners including Australia, is liaising with the Australian Federal Police and other intelligence and security agenies on further investigation into the Australian’s background.
It is understood the bomber, who never intended to die in the attack, had lived in Lebanon since 2010. Two US counterfeit driver’s licences found at the scene have been linked back to Lebanon. The two foreign passports were ruled genuine.
Hezbollah, a Shite militant group and political party, has been linked to attacks and kidnappings around the world. Hezbollah officials have denied being part of the attack.
Iran had been blamed for the attack by the Israelis, but Europol confirmed there was no evidence of this.
The White House said Europe and other international partners, including Australia, needed to uncover Hezbollah’s infrastructure and disrupt the groups finances and network.
Israel and the US consider Hezbollah a terrorist group but the European Union does not.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the finding was “further confirmation” of Hezbollah’s global terrorist network.
“The attack in Burgas was an attack on European land against a member of the European Union. We hope the Europeans learn the proper conclusions from this about the true character of the Hezbollah.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague this morning added his voice for demands for Lebanon to “fully cooperate” in investigating the Australian and Canadian dual Lebanese citizens who apparently belonged to Hezbollah. He said those behind the attack needed to be brought to account.
A truck carries the bus damaged by the suicide bomb blast which targeted a group of Israeli tourists at the airport in Bourgas, Bulgaria. Picture: AFP
“It is important that the EU respond robustly to an attack on European soil,” he said.
“Every act of terror is an attack on our shared values. In committing an attack, terrorists seek to undermine our resolve but they should only serve to strengthen it.”
Mr Hague also praised Bulgarian authorities for their excellent investigative work.
Homegrown terrorists are a growing trend, with British-born terrorists carrying outÂ the London bombings in 2005, shoe bomber Richard Reid, the 2007 Glasgow Airport attack and the failed 2010 bombing of Times Square in New York.
Europol warned Europe should be prepared for further similar attacks.