Spike in phone calls to Lebanon preceded Bourgas suicide bombing – report

In the absence of any news concerning the investigation of the suicide bombing at the Sarafovo airport in Bourgas, Bulgarian media has been hungrily seizing on snippets of information reported elsewhere.

On August 9, that came in the shape of a report in the New York Times, which quoted an unnamed senior Israeli government as saying that Israeli intelligence services had evidence of numerous calls being made between Bulgaria and Lebanon in the two months before the July 18 terrorist attack that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver.

The number of calls increased in the days before the attack, but the newspaper’s Israeli source said that the details would not be made public so as not to tip off the masterminds of the attack.

In Bulgaria, the investigation had stalled, the newspaper said, with authorities yet to identify the suicide bomber or any accomplices.

While Bulgarian media predictably latched onto the bits referring to Bulgaria, the New York Times story focused on the bigger picture – the alleged “shadow war” waged by Iran and its ally in Lebannon, Islamic militia Hezbollah, against Israel, which analysts quoted by the newspaper likened to “the cloak-and-dagger maneuverings of the C.I.A. and the K.G.B. during the cold war.”

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran and Hezbollah of carrying out the attack in the aftermath of the bombing, a charge that Tehran and the militia have denied. Bulgaria has repeatedly refused to make the same accusation in the absence of solid proof – most recently earlier this week, when Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov visited London to meet with his British counterpart David Cameron.

Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, Cameron named Hezbollah as the perpetrator of the attack. Later, speaking to Bulgarian media, Borissov said that he asked Cameron to pass on any evidence that British intelligence services might have proving such allegations. Until there is proof, however, it was better not to speak of the matter, Borissov said.

(Photo of burnt bus after blast in Bourgas by Bulgarian Interior Ministry)



The Sofia Globe staff

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