A tragic explosion on a bus containing a large group of young Israeli tourists shocked bystanders outside of a Bulgarian airport on Wednesday. The bus was full of Israeli arrivals who were planning to vacation in the Black Sea City of Burgas, CBS News reports. At least six people were killed by the blast, which sent high billows of black smoke into the skyline.
Israeli leaders have publicly announced that they believe the attack on the bus was directly connected to a terrorist plot. The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, proclaimed his belief that Iran staged the explosion. According to BBC News, Netanyahu was quoted as saying, “All the signs lead to Iran… Israel will respond forcefully to Iranian terror.”
It should be noted that the blast occurred on the 18th anniversary of an attack on a Jewish community center in Argentina which killed 300 people. Israeli leaders also blamed that attack on Iran, although Iranian leaders have always denied any connection to the event.
Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak also stated that he believes the attack is tied to Iran. Barak believes that the attack was initiated by either Iran or a radical Muslim group. He maintains that the act will not go unpunished and the attackers will be brought to justice. Bulgarian officials have also condemned the bombing and it is believed Bulgarian officials will ask the U.N. to officially condemn the act in a meeting on Thursday, CNN reports.
This accident has left more than six people dead, with at least three in critical condition, and as many as 30 people in the hospital for treatment. The blast managed to destroy the bus which carried newly arrived passengers from a flight that had recently landed from Tel Aviv at 5 pm, but it also destroyed two buses stationed nearby.
Security experts have disclosed that they had received warnings of possible attacks on Israeli civilians who landed in Bulgaria several months ago. The flight carried over 150 passengers, and adjacent buses meant to carry the rest of the passengers to the nearby resort were able to scrape away without any injuries on board.
One witness stated that he saw someone board the bus and directly afterwards a giant explosion left a scene of terror behind. Survivors on the nearby buses dispersed in every direction as the black smoke filled the air. One witness told reporters that the scene was extremely bloody and many people were bleeding and injured as the bus continued to burn and flames threatened to engulf people who could not get away from the buses quickly enough.
North American leaders have also condemned the bus bombing openly. President Obama affirmed his support for Israel and Bulgaria, commenting on the long tradition of U.S. support of Israel. As quoted by CNN, he said:
As Israel has tragically once more been a target of terrorism, the United States reaffirms our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, and our deep friendship and solidarity with the Israeli people.
Photo Credit: Ivan Esquival