Bulgaria Bus Blast: Israel Blames Iran ~ AP, Huffpost.
JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister has blamed Iran for the deadly blast that struck a bus of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria and is promising a tough response.
At least three Israeli tourists were killed.
Netanyahu noted that the attack follows similar attempts in India, Georgia, Thailand, Kenya and Cyprus in recent months.
He said “this is an Iranian terror attack that is spreading across the world” and that “Israel will react strongly to Iran’s terror.”
WATCH: Aftermath of Burgas terror attack; Haaretz brings you minute-by-minute updates on the deadly attack; terror attack occurs on 18th anniversary of attack on Jewish community in Buenos Aires.
11:50 P.M.: Bulgarian president said Israeli representatives came to Sofia a month ago, but did not give any information regarding possible attacks against Israelis in Bulgaria.
11:45 P.M.: A source in the Foreign Ministry says official death toll stands at 5 Israelis, while 32 Israelis are known to be wounded.
11:30 P.M.: Netanyahu spoke with the Bulgarian prime minister, who expressed his condolences for the Israeli casualties in the terror attack in Burgas. The Bulgarian prime minister told Netanyahu that there will be full cooperation with Israel on the investigation of the attack, saying the attack was not only against Israel but also against Bulgaria.
10:35 P.M.: Obama condemns ‘barbaric terrorist attack’ on Israelis in Bulgaria (AP)
10:32 P.M.: IDF Chief Benny Gantz instructed the home front command, air force and medical corps to prepare to a plane with a medical team, in order to treat victims of the attack. According to Gantz’s instructions, the plane is set to depart on Wednesday night.
10:21 P.M.: Itzik Levi, the head of a Chabad restaurant in Burgas, said that most of the Israelis that were not wounded in the blast are still at the airport. He estimates that there are over 100 passengers. According to him, Bulgarian police are not allowing them to leave the airport until they give testimonies.
“People did not look so frightened, although they did seem slightly angry. Some of them want to return to Israel and are not interested in anything. Others want to stay,” Levi told Haaretz.
9:36 P.M.: Hezbollah denies all connection to the attack. A representative from the group told Lebanese media outlets that “we will not seek revenge over the death of Imad Mughniyah by harming tourists.”
9:25 P.M.: Ben Gurion International Airport will open between the hours of 2 A.M.-5 A.M. The unusual move will allow the departure of 11 flights that were delayed, specifically to destinations in the Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean basin.
9:21 P.M.: Tzipora Mani from Jerusalem, who is currently at the Burgas airport and witnesed the explosion, said that after the luggage was taken into the bus, her friends and her began approaching the bus.
“After a few minutes we heard a big boom,” she said, adding that the explosion took place in one bus, which was not full of passengers. “They didn’t tell is what they’re doing with us and if they are returning us (to Israel). We are now waiting patiently.” She added that the passengers of the bus were mainly young people.
9:20 P.M.: In her Twitter account, United Nations Envoy Susan Rice calls the attack in Bulgaria “outrageous, an act of supreme cowardice” (Natasha Mozgovaya).
9:19 P.M.: Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov arrived at the site of the attack and called Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in order to report to him that explosives placed in the trunk of the tourists’ bus were the cause of the explosion. Mladenov told Lieberman that six people were killed in the attack while another died of in the hospital. Two other individuals were in critical condition in the emergency room. 30 others were being treated at the city’s hospital.
9:15 P.M.: Bulgarian authorities confirm that two Israeli relief planes landed in the country.
9:11 P.M.: Bulgarian opposition leader, Sergei Stenishev, expressed his condolences over the attack, saying that “there is nothing in the world that justifies killing innocent people. We cannot ignore the fact that Israel warned us this past winter that there is a chance that such an attack could take place. This is even worse considering that the event took place in the airport, a place that must be highly protected.”
9:08 P.M.: According to Bulgaria’s interior minister, five people were killed in the attack and 33 were wounded, 3 of whom are in critical condition.
“We are currently preparing a list with the names of the people on the flight, in order to identify the victims,” he said.
8:48 P.M.: Bulgarian news agency Focus reports 11-year-old Israeli girl, two pregnant women among those wounded. According to the report, all those wounded have been evacuated to the local hospital.
8:50 P.M.: Bulgarian interior minister says bus blast was deliberate attack (Reuters).
8:27 P.M.: Ehud Barak promises that Israel’s security services will do all it can in order to reach those responsible for the attack.
“We have been tracking the intentions of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Iranian groups and the Islamic Jihad to carry out attacks across the world for quite some time. We have a long struggle with them, which includes many successes, as well as difficult days. Today is one of those difficult days. It is important that Israelis continue to travel across the world, continue to travel in Israel and live their normal lives despite all the pain,” Barak said.
8:24 P.M.: Several internet sites in Bulgaria reports that government authorities ignored warnings and alerts by Israeli and Russian sources over a possible attack
8:15 P.M.: Burgas Mayor Dimitar Nikolov tells Bulgarian media that 33 Israeli tourists have been hospitalized, and nine other Israelis are still missing.
8:03 P.M.: Bulgarian media reports that one of those killed is a local tour guide
8:00 P.M.: Michal, the mother of Ron Parhan who flew to Bulgaria on Wednesday, said that her daughter called her in panic, and said that someone blew himself up on the bus. “She sustained cuts and was bleeding, they removed her through the window of the bus. She was hysterical, and is there without a cell phone, so she could not say much.”
Parhan said that her daughter was traveling with her friend, Gal, before the two were supposed to enlist in the IDF next month. Their flight left Wednesday at 2:30 P.M. and the two were supposed to return next week (Revital Hovel).
7:52 P.M.: Bulgarian news agency reports 30 wounded in the attack, four of which are in serious condition.
7:50 P.M.: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Iran is responsible for the terror attack in Bulgaria, we will have a strong response against Iranian terror.”
7:47 P.M.: The Israeli tour company, “Kavei Hufsha,” which was in charge of the trip to Burgas released a statement on the attack:
“In accordance with the information that we have received from our local representative in Burgas, an explosion took place on a bus which drove our tourists near the airport. We have sent our representatives to the airport as well as to the nearby hospital in order to provide any assistance. At the same time, we are sending our representatives from Israel on the first flight which is set to leave after midnight.
7:35 P.M.: Disruptions in flights from Israel to Europe expected in wake of attack. The Israel Airports Authority stated that delays should be expected in departures from Ben Gurion International Airport, and called on the public to update flight companies regarding changes.
7:28 P.M.: Bulgaria’s EU Humanitarin Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva was the first Bulgarian politician to react to the Burgas terror attack. The following is a post she wrote on her Twitter account:
“I am shocked and saddened by the news about the explosion in Burgas in which there are casualties. I am following news the news constantly.” (Haaretz)
7:17 P.M.: Bulgarian news agency Novinite.com says there were about 40 Israeli tourists on the bus that blew up.
7:13 P.M.: Burgas Mayor Dimitar Nikolov says bus exploded due to explosives being placed placed in the trunk of the bus.
7:09 P.M.: Bulgarian news agency Novinite.com reports that the Bulgarian president, prime minister, and interior minister have rushed to the site of terror attack.
7:05 P.M.: Magen David Adom is preparing to send a minimal crew of doctors and paramedics to treat the wounded Israelis in Bulgaria. Israel’s Disaster Victim Identification unit is also slated to send a crew.
6:56 P.M.: According to Bulgarian news, 18 Israelis have been evacuated to a local hospital. Hospital sources say they expect more to arrive.
Israel Police are being updated on the situation by the Foreign Ministry and Israel Police in Eastern Europe (Yaniv Kubovitch)
6:54 P.M.: Death count reaches seven, according to Bulgarian television.
6:51 P.M.: Burgas airport closed, flights redirected to airport of Varna, Bulgarian police says (Reuters).
6:40 P.M.: The Bulgarian news network Focus reported that three have been killed and 20 wounded in the attack.
Several reports claim that the explosion was a result of a suicide bombing.
Bulgarian police stated that it was unclear how many dead and wounded there were at the scene, but added that at least 10 fire trucks were fighting the blaze.
6:39 P.M.: Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman spoke with his Bulgarian counterpart, Nickolay Evtimov Mladenov, who is on his way to the scene of the explosion.
Several Israelis were killed and wounded on Wednesday in a terror attack on a tour bus in the Burgas airport in Bulgaria, local media reported.
An Israeli who witnessed the event said that one of the buses that carried Israelis across terminals in the airport blew up and went up in flames.
The Foreign Ministry confirmed that are several Israeli casualties in the explosion.
This is a developing story
* Obama bemoans ‘barbaric’ terror attack in Bulgaria ~ USA Today.