x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Bulgaria bomber autopsy gives ground to accomplice theory

Autopsy on suicide bomber who killed five Israeli tourists and a bus driver in Bulgaria show he was different from an 'Arab-looking' suspect cited by witnesses.

SOFIA // An autopsy on a suicide bomber who killed five Israeli tourists and a bus driver in Bulgaria show he was different from an "Arab-looking" suspect cited by witnesses, a doctor said yesterday.

Galina Mileva, who was involved in the post-mortem examination, told BNT television the man "had a white face, light eyes, and very thick brown hair. The facial bones were shattered in the explosion."

Bulgarian police along with the CIA, FBI and Interpol are struggling to identify the bomber who carried out Wednesday's attack at the Black Sea town of Burgas which also claimed the life of the Bulgarian bus driver.

Bulgaria's Pressa newspaper reported the bomber could have had an accomplice who detonated the explosives by cellphone.

A man and his wife who ran a car rental service earlier said they recognised the suspect who came to hire a vehicle. They said he had a wad of 500-euro bills and refused to rent him a car as his US driving licence appeared to be a fake.

The Bourgas prosecutor Kalina Tchapkanova quoted witnesses as saying the man "spoke English with a slight accent" and appeared to be Arab.

The car rental service owner's wife Afrodita Petrova said she was sure he was of Arab origin and had a shaven head.

But the Bourgas journalist Katia Kassabova from the besove.bg website which carried the first images of the attack said yesterday that "the bomber is not the man who tried to rent the car. He could be an accomplice".

"The man who died had blue eyes while the man spotted in the car rental agency had brown eyes," she said, adding that the bomber was 1.82 metres tall.

Israel has blamed the Lebanese militant Hizbollah movement for the bombing, although it has not offered any proof.

Yesterday, the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government has "fully substantiated intelligence" that the attack was carried out by the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hizbollah. Mr Netanyahu said on CBS's Face the Nation that Israel "will do whatever is necessary" to protect innocent Israelis and says "there has to be a price exacted" from the terrorists and their backers. "We are vigilant about the possibility that they (Iran and its agents) would attack elsewhere, but I can't give specific details. ... I'm not confirming any information that we have on the Olympics," he said Israel blames Iran and its proxies for the Bulgaria bombing and other plots against Israelis and Jews overseas over the past two years. In 1972, 11 Israeli athletes were killed after they were abducted by Palestinians at the Munich Olympics

* Agence France-Presse and Associated Press