Heightened security measures remain in place at Bulgaria’s airports, ports, bus and railway stations and post office, on the orders of the Ministry of Transport and Communications crisis staff, after the July 18 2012 terrorist attack against Israeli tourists by a suicide bomber at Bourgas Airport.
At Bourgas Airport, flights were on schedule but apart from those with flight bookings, no one else was being allowed inside the airport’s terminals. Local media said that flight announcements about flights to and from Israel were not posted on the electronic notice board and there were special security measures to protect Israeli travellers.
In the July 18 terrorist attack, five Israeli tourists, a Bulgarian bus driver and the suicide bomber died.
The identity of the suicide bomber has not been established. DNA samples have been sent to the United States for checking, while it has been clarified that earlier reports that the perpetrator was a former Guantanamo prisoner were false.
At Bourgas Airport, the only civilian vehicles being admitted were those of organised groups of tourists and people with disabilities, and then only after special security checks.
On July 21, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry rejected reports in the Israeli media that a hitherto-unknown organisation had claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack at Bourgas Airport. Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov has said that the investigation into the bombing was still ongoing and it was too early to draw conclusions about who was responsible for the blast.
In a July 21 interview with public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio (BNR), Mladenov was adamant that the country’s foreign policy could not have provoked the Bourgas attack.
“The analysis being performed at the moment as the most likely option is that there was a targeted attack against Israeli tourists with the purpose of affecting as many Israeli nationals as possible,” BTA reported Mladenov as telling BNR. His message was that this was an attack against Israeli nationals rather than one specifically directed against Bulgaria.
Information about the explosive used in the bombing, said by the country’s Interior Ministry to have been three kg of TNT in the bomber’s backpack, is being shared with foreign law enforcement and intelligence agencies to establish whether there are any connections with other terrorist attacks.
Unconfirmed media reports said that a suspected accomplice, said to have been using a US passport, was being sought by Bulgarian law enforcement authorities.
At least two hotels in Bourgas told CNN that police had come with an identikit photo looking for a man in connection with the attack, CNN said on July 21.
Israel’s tourism minister Stas Misezhnikov will travel to Bulgaria on July 23 in an effort to retain tourism ties following the deadly terror attack that killed five Israelis in the resort city of Bourgas last week, The Times of Israel reported, quoted by local news agency Focus.
Misezhnikov is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and President Rossen Plevneliev of Bulgaria and to hold a memorial ceremony at the site of the attack.
According to a tourism ministry statement, Misezhnikov would travel with a delegation of prominent members of Israel’s tourism sector.
“Terrorism will not disrupt our lives and stop our aspirations,” Misezhnikov said. He encouraged the public to keep traveling, as meeting people from other countries and visiting different cultures was important, and said that “tourism is a bridge to peace.” He thanked the Bulgarian government for its co-operation and its “dedicated treatment following the tragic terror attack”.
(Photo: Interior Ministry press centre)
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