Progress in investigation into Bourgas airport suicide bomb terrorist attack, Bulgarian PM says

There is progress in the investigation into the July 18 suicide bomb terrorist attack against Israeli tourists at Bourgas Airport, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on July 24 after meeting a senior US counterterrorism official, although Borissov said that the identity of the suicide bomber was not known, nor where and how he had entered the country, or to which organisation he was connected.

Borissov, speaking at a joint news conference with US president Barack Obama’s adviser on homeland security and counterterrorism John Brennan, said that detailed information about the attack would be presented when the services investigating the terrorist attack were ready.

Against a background of earlier media reports that identified – variously –Turkey and Romania as the suicide bomber’s point of entry into Bulgaria, Borissov said that it was not known where the terrorist had entered the country. However, he said that he may have arrived by air, from a country in the European Union’s Schengen zone.

Bulgariais not a member of the Schengen zone, currently kept out because of Dutch reservations about Bulgaria’s adequacy in the fight against organised crime and corruption. Romania also is not a member of Schengen. However, Bulgaria has access to the Schengen Information System, an anti-crime computer database intended to enable the identification of wanted criminals attempting to cross borders.

Borissov said that it could be that no Bulgarian border was safe for the Schengen zone – and that Schengen borders were not safe for Bulgaria.

He said that it was impossible to foil an attack of this type. “We do not underestimate the situation, but there is no way to search the luggage of every tourist,” Borissov said.

The Bourgas Airport suicide bombing, according to initial reports and eyewitness accounts, involved an as-yet-unidentified man who boarded a bus carrying a group of Israeli tourists. The explosive in the terrorist’s backpack, said by Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry to have been three kg of TNT-based powder, caused the deaths of five Israeli tourists, the Bulgarian bus driver and the terrorist, and resulted in about 30 people being seriously injured.

Borissov said that the terrorists – earlier reports said that law enforcement agencies were seeking at least one accomplice – had entered the country nearly a month ago, changed rental cars, travelled to different cities so that they were not seen together. He said that no security camera footage showed more than one member of the group together in the same place at the same time.

He said that the group was “very experienced people” who had kept a tight conspiracy and it would have been only by chance if the plot would have been detected.

Borissov called for patience, saying that the best experts in the world were involved in the investigation into the bombing. He said that Bulgaria’s services did not have budgets of billions.

He said that Bulgaria was a small country with a mixed population and was one that made good money from tourism. “Arab and Israeli tourists and everyone else are welcome,” Borissov said.

“We are at the Arab world’s entrance to Europe and we cannot afford to overstep boundaries, pointing the finger at someone,” Borissov said.

In spite of Israeli citing intelligence information as proving theBourgasAirportterrorist attack to have been the work of Hezbollah and Iran, Bulgaria so far has declined to join in this assertion.

In recent days, Cabinet ministers including Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov and Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov have said that no allegation about who was behind the terrorist bombing would be made until the investigation was complete.

Brennan said, “we do not blame the Bulgarian services for the attack in Bourgas, we blame the terrorists”.

The US official, whose visit toBulgariawas scheduled ahead of the July 18 terrorist bomb attack, said that he had been impressed by the professionalism of the Bulgarian intelligence and other services.

The US had concerns about the activities of Hezbollah and the activities of Iran; there are indications they participated in terrorist attacks in various places in the world.

“This is something we condemn; we know our Bulgarian partners condemn it too. We will await the results of the investigation of what happened in Bulgaria. When we establish the results, we will assess the most suitable reaction,” Brennan said.


(Photo of Borissov by; photo of Brennan by Pete Souza)





Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015), and co-author of the book Bulgarian Jews: Living History (The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria 'Shalom', 2018). He is also the author of Power: A Political Novel, available via, and, on the lighter side, Whiskers And Other Short Tales of Cats (2021), also available via Amazon. He has translated books and numerous texts from Bulgarian into English.