Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday reiterated the Israeli assertion that Hezbollah with Iranian help was behind Wednesday's terror attack in Bulgaria which killed five Israelis, but said that the identity of the suicide bomber was still unknown.
Speaking in an interview with Channel 2, Barak rejected claims that the attack represented an intelligence failure for Israel. "There is no country whose intelligence gathering capabilities have a wider range than Israel's...I don't think we have anything to apologize for," the defense minister stated.
Top Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Barak have maintained since immediately after the attack that Hezbollah and Iran were responsible.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said Friday
that while the US was not prepared to say with certainty that the
Israeli claims were true, there was evidence to that effect.
"The attack does bear some of the hallmarks of Hezbollah but we're not in a position to make any final determination on who was responsible," Little stated.
Both Iran and Hezbollah have denied any involvement in the attack.
Bulgarian investigators said on Friday that they had managed
to obtain DNA samples from the fingers of the bomber and were checking databases
in an attempt to identify him. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov told
parliament he hoped that would be done in 3-4 days.
The interior minister
added that the man who blew up a bus carrying Israeli tourists at a Bulgarian
airport, killing himself and six others, was a foreign national and Sofia was
trying to pin down details with the help of foreign spy services.
"We are talking
about a person that is not a Bulgarian citizen," Interior Minister Tsvetan
Tsvetanov told a news conference. "We are exchanging information with our
Israeli colleagues and the other services." Tsvetanov said investigators were
working on several leads, including the possibility that the bomber had an
accomplice, but he denied media reports that a local Hezbollah cell was behind
"Such topics, and such interpretations have not been talked
about or discussed. At the moment we are focused on realistic options," he
Channel 2 reported Friday that Bulgarian Police began distributing a sketch of the alleged accomplice in hopes that the public could help them in the investigation.
The Israeli tourists had arrived in Bulgaria on a charter flight
from Israel and were in the bus in the airport car park when the blast tore
through the vehicle.
Closed-circuit video showed the bomber wore Bermuda
shorts, a blue T-shirt and cap, blending in with other tourists as he roamed the
airport for an hour before blowing up the bus.
Some analysts believe Iran
is trying to avenge the assassinations of several scientists involved in its
controversial nuclear program that it blames on Israel and the United States.
Israeli diplomats have been targeted in several countries in recent months by
bombers who the Jewish state maintained had struck on behalf of
The Bulgarian blast occurred on the 18th anniversary of a bomb
attack on Argentina's main Jewish organization that killed 85 people. Argentina
blamed Iran, which denied responsibility.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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