Israel threatens a 'heavy price' for Iran after deadly Bulgaria bus bomb

Mr Netanyahu went out of his way to link the attack with Tehran's nuclear ambitions

Jerusalem

Israel yesterday fuelled fears of a further escalation in the already high tensions with Iran by promising to "exact a heavy price" from the perpetrators of the suicide bombing which killed seven people in Bulgaria, which it blamed unequivocally on Hezbollah.

As Bulgarian officials said the suspected bomber in the attack on Wednesday that killed five Israeli holidaymakers was a lanky, long-haired man in a baseball cap and T-shirt, carrying a fake American driving licence, Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said it had been carried out by "Hezbollah, the long arm of Iran."

There was some doubt about Bulgarian media reports that named the suicide attacker as Mehdi Ghazali, a former detainee at the US-run detainment camp at Guantanamo Bay. Mr Ghazali, who is of Algerian-Finnish origin, is said to have studied at a British mosque, and to have travelled to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Continuing to blame Iran, under whose direct orders Israel is convinced Hezbollah acts in its operations outside Lebanon, Mr Netanyhau went out of his way to link the attack at the Black Sea resort of Burgas with Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

"The time has come for all countries that know the truth to speak it," he said. "Iran is the one behind the wave of terror. Iran is the No 1 exporter of terror in the world. A terrorist state must not have a nuclear weapon. The most dangerous country in the world must not possess the most dangerous weapon on earth."

Mr Netanyahu said that for more than a year, Iran and its proxy Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group and political party, had been conducting "a global terror campaign that crosses continents and borders, listing 10 countries, including the US, in which they had operated.

The Prime Minister pledged that Israel would "continue to pursue the attackers and exact a heavy price from those who sent them."

The categorical accusation against Hezbollah and Iran was in sharp contrast to Bulgaria's reluctance to apportion immediate blame for the airport attack in which the bus driver, as well as the bomber, was killed.

The Bulgarian Foreign Minister, Nikolay Mladenov, said that he thought "it is wrong and a mistake to point fingers at this stage of the investigation at any country or organisation."

Iran denied that it was responsible, saying that it was itself a target of terrorism, all forms of which it said it condemned.

Ramin Mehmanparast, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Tehran declared that "terrorism endangers the lives of innocents."

The Bulgarian authorities posted an airport video showing the bomber, with pale skin and long red hair, and who the Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, said had been carrying a fake Michigan driving licence, wandering into the arrivals hall of the airport, looking around and wandering out again. He is seen carrying an unusually large back pack which witnesses said contained the bomb.

Investigators have established that he had either turned towards the bus when he blew it up or pretended to be one of the passengers.

"He either had turned with his backpack toward the bus when he exploded it or pretended he was simply a normal passenger making to store in the baggage compartment when it exploded," said Mr Tsvetanov.

As the dead and injured, at least five critically so, were being airlifted back to Israel, the Bulgaria attack was being discussed by senior Israeli security officials already exercised by the separate possibility that parts of a Syrian arsenal of chemical weapons might be transferred to Hezbollah by the increasingly embattled Damascus regime.

Meanwhile, Meir Javedanfar, an Iran analyst at Israel's Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya, expressed doubts about apportioning blame for the Bulgaria bombing before a full investigation bore fruit, pointing out that al-Qai'da had been held responsible for an attacking targeting Israel in Kenya in 2002.

But Mr Javedanfar said if Israel's government really had solid intelligence that Hezbollah had been responsible for the bombing then it would have been under Iran's aegis, and Iran "would have made a very big mistake by doing this on European Union soil.

"It would mean that Iran's hopes of an easing of sanctions by the EU would become more distant if it was Iran's responsibility."

News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Life & Style
life
Arts & Entertainment
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
tv
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
VIDEO
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
News
Youngsters around the country living it up in des-res two-storey garden mansions with a balcony
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
News
The academic, Annamaria Testa, has set out on her website a list of 300 English words that she says Italians ought to stop using
newsAcademic speaks out against 'Italianglo' - the use of English words in Italian language
Extras
indybest
Life & Style
tech
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates his goal
sport
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal