JERUSALEM – Bulgarian investigators said Tuesday the Lebanese group Hezbollah was responsible for a July bus bombing that killed five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian bus driver in the Black Sea resort of Burgas, as asserted by Israel.
The announcement was certain to heighten pressure on the European Union to join Israel and the United States in labeling Hezbollah as a terrorist group, allowing law enforcement agents in Europe to seize assets, restrict travel and arrest members.
Bulgarian officials said two of the three suspects in the Burgas attack entered the country with Canadian and Australian passports.
“We have well-grounded reasons to suggest that the two were members of the militant wing of Hezbollah,” Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov told reporters. “We expect the government of Lebanon to assist in the further investigation.”
Tsvetanov said evidence showed the men received funding and instructions from Hezbollah. One of the attackers died in the bombing.
Hezbollah, which is part of the ruling coalition government in Lebanon, has denied any role in the attack.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the findings bolstered his country’s long-standing call to ostracize Hezbollah and its financial backer, Iran.
The Bulgaria attack was widely seen as part of the shadow war between Israel and Iran. Israel has blamed Iran for planning and orchestrating attacks against its citizens in numerous countries, including Thailand, Kenya, India and Georgia. Iran accused Israel of covertly assassinating several of its nuclear researchers and sabotaging its nuclear facilities.
Bulgarian officials did not link Iran to the July bombing.