Source: Possible 2nd suspect in Bulgaria bus attack


Story highlights

NEW: Terror groups are using people with European looks to allay suspicions, Ehud Barak says

Eyewitnesses have given differing descriptions to investigators, a source says

The attacker blew up an airport bus in Burgas on Wednesday, killing 5 Israeli tourists

Israel has accused Iran and Hezbollah in the attack, a claim denied by Iran

Burgas, Bulgaria CNN —  

Bulgarian police have been alerted to the possibility of a second suspect in a bomb attack that killed five Israeli tourists in Burgas, a high-level source in Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry told CNN.

Investigators have determined that the bomb was detonated by a man caught on airport security videos about an hour before Wednesday’s attack at Burgas International Airport. But they are now looking at the possibility that he had help.

According to the source, investigators have spoken to several eyewitnesses in attempt to identify the bomber.

They describe a man with short hair who spoke English with a “distinct” accent.

This is different from the man seen on the security video who has long hair, however, leading investigators to look into the possibility that a second person may be involved, a source said.

Police in Burgas have been given an identikit photo of the man and told to look out for anyone matching this description.

Bulgaria investigators seeks clues to suicide bomber’s identity

Earlier, a lower-level source at the Interior Ministry told CNN that police were looking for a second suspect, possibly an American.

That was later corrected by a higher-level source, who said a second suspect was a possibility, but had not been confirmed.

At least two hotels in Burgas told CNN that police had come with an identikit photo looking for a man in connection with the attack.

Five Israeli tourists and the Bulgarian bus driver died in the blast, as well as the bomber. More than 30 other Israelis were injured, some seriously.

Israel has said it suspects Iran or an Islamist militant group such as Hezbollah is behind the attack, a claim that has added to tension between Israel and Tehran. Iran, which has condemned the attack, has rejected Israel’s claims.

The man who carried out the suicide bombing was carrying what the Interior Ministry has said was a fake Michigan driver’s license.

Amidst global instability, travel and tourism affected

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Saturday reiterated Israel’s claim that Hezbollah, which has close ties to Iran, was responsible for the bombing in remarks aired on CNN affiliate Channel 10.

“We know that Hezbollah is behind the attack. We know he had a fake driver’s license from Michigan. We know he had a Western appearance and not the look of someone from the Middle East,” he said.

“At the moment we don’t know exactly who he was, but the truth is that it doesn’t matter. The trend is that terror bodies are taking people with European looks, in order to get past the immediate eye-contact test of the face. This is known and it is not the first time it has happened.”

Asked how Israel would respond, he said it would first find out who sent the bomber and then, “when the time comes, we will act in the appropriate way.”

Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said Friday in a news conference broadcast on Bulgarian National TV that investigators were working round the clock to find new leads in the case, in collaboration with their Israeli counterparts and international organizations such as Interpol and Europol.

The suicide bomber was a foreigner who entered the country with fake identification documents and had been in Bulgaria for at least four days, the minister said. But authorities still don’t know from where he came, where he stayed or what he did while in Bulgaria, he added.

The bomb is believed to have been concealed in a backpack placed by the bomber on a bus in a parking lot outside the airport.

How Bulgaria became a terrorist target

Tsvetanov said Friday that he was not excluding the possibility that a second person might have been involved.

Experts are certain from DNA analysis of body parts found at the scene that the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber, he added.

The flag-draped coffins of the Israelis killed in the attack were flown in a military aircraft early Friday to Tel Aviv, where they were greeted with a ceremony. Thirty-six of those injured have also been transferred back to Israel for treatment.

The airport bus targeted by the attacker was to have taken 47 passengers to a beach resort.

Bulgarian officials have sought to reassure those worried by what is an unusual attack in the nation, saying security has been boosted wherever needed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that the attack was “perpetrated by Hezbollah, Iran’s leading terrorist proxy,” as part of a global campaign that has reached a dozen countries on five continents, but he offered no evidence.

Israel’s U.S. Embassy said a day earlier that it had no proof that Iran was the instigator of the attack.

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said Friday that the attack “does bear the hallmarks of Hezbollah.” He refused to elaborate.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said Israel was engaging in “baseless accusations against other countries in order to distract the attention of the international community from its terrorist activities being carried out throughout the world,” according to a statement from the state-run IRNA news agency.

Bulgaria explosion comes amid growing Iranian-Israeli tension

CNN’s Laura Perez Maestro and Saad Abedine contributed to this report.