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Photo by: Bulgaria Interior Ministry
Bulgarian police recover DNA evidence of one of Burgas bombers
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
09/03/2014
Hezbollah operative who remotely detonated bomb in suicide bomber's backpack left hats, towel in hotel room which yield DNA evidence.
 
Police in Bulgaria have found DNA believed to be from one of the perpetrators of the July 2012 terrorist attack on an Israeli tour bus there, in which Hezbollah is said to have been involved. Bulgarian media published the DNA results on Sunday.

The tourists had arrived in the Black Sea resort of Burgas on a charter flight from Israel and were already on the bus in the airport parking lot when a blast tore through the vehicle. Five Israelis and their Bulgarian driver were killed, and more than 30 Israelis were wounded, some of them severely.

The Bulgarian news outlets Pressa and Offnews reported Sunday on the new evidence implicating Canadi an-Lebane s e national Hassan El Hajj Hassan.

According to the reports, police located DNA from Hassan at a hotel in Nesebar, another Black Sea resort town.

Investigators believe he was responsible for the logistics of the attack. He arrived in Bulgaria on June 28, 2012, and it is believed that he activated the bomb by remote control on July 18.

According to investigators, Hassan stayed for nearly a week in the Nesebar Hotel and developed a rapport with a waitress.

The woman invited him to attend a birthday party but he declined, saying he had an important meeting. The reports said he remained calm throughout his visit and played the role of tourist.

According to the news outlets, Hassan wore hats at all times and left two baseball caps in his room. The police recovered the DNA from the hats, as well as from a towel.

Investigators believe he left the hats behind when he departed the hotel in a rush. Other evidence found in the room could indicate the presence of an accomplice.

In addition to Hassan, authorities previously said they had identified a second suspect in the attack, a Lebanese national. They also said they believed the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist group Hezbollah was behind the bombing.

Last month, Bulgarian authorities announced there was a third suspect.

“Two individuals were previously established. They are now three,” chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov told reporters.

Some investigators believe four people in all carried out the attack.

“The identification of the new suspect will extend the investigation and there will be new requests for legal help from abroad,” Tsatsarov said. “It means we will need just a little more time.” He gave no further details.

All of the suspects in the bombing remain at large. Two are believed to be in Lebanon. Bulgaria requested their extradition, but Lebanese authorities have not responded.

A source in Sofia who is familiar with extradition requests told The Jerusalem Post that Lebanon has rejected all Bulgarian requests for criminal extraditions in recent years.

In November, prosecutors said they aimed to wrap up the investigation by the end of April. Last July, the European Union put the armed wing of Hezbollah on its terrorism blacklist due to the bombing.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.



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