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July 18, 2012 11:52 am

Bulgaria Terrorist Attack Kills Israeli Tourists (TIMELINE)

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Bus explosion outside of Burgas Airport. Photo:

A bus explosion at the Burgus Airport in Bulgaria killed a group of Israeli tourists on Wednesday.

Below are the live updates compiled throughout the day, as world leaders reacted to the terrorist attack.

5:45 P.M.

U.S. Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney released a statement on the attack saying, “The terrorist attack today in Bulgaria is a sobering reminder that the scourge of terrorism continues to threaten all free people. My heart goes out to the victims and their families, and to all Israelis who have been the targets of such brutal and cowardly violence for so long. We must stand together in the fight against terrorism, and we must prevail.”

3:30 P.M.

Hezbollah denies involvement in the bus attack, telling Lebanese media that “we will not seek revenge over the death of Imad Mughniyah by harming tourists.”

Bulgaria’s President Rosen Plevneliev arrives at the airport in Burgas.

2:46 P.M.

Israeli officials sent to Burgus to assist with the repsonse have landed in Bulgaria,

Bulgarian opposition leader, Sergei Stenishev released a statement saying “there is nothing in the world that justifies killing innocent people. We cannot ignore the fact that Israel warned us this past winter that there is a chance that such an attack could take place. This is even worse considering that the event took place in the airport, a place that must be highly protected.”

Bulgaria’s interior minister says five people were killed in the attack and 33 were wounded.

2:02 P.M.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says that despite how “difficult” days like today are, Israelis must “live their normal lives despite all the pain”.

“We have been tracking the intentions of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Iranian groups and the Islamic Jihad to carry out attacks across the world for quite some time,” Barak said.  “We have a long struggle with them, which includes many successes, as well as difficult days. Today is one of those difficult days. It is important that Israelis continue to travel across the world, continue to travel in Israel and live their normal lives despite all the pain.”

The Bulgarian news agency Focus reports that multiple pregnant women were injured in the attack, as well as an 11 year old girl.

1:15 P.M.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Iran is behind Wednesday’s deadly attack.

“Iran is responsible for the terror attack in Bulgaria, we will have a strong response against Iranian terror.”

The Israeli tour company in charge of the trip in Burgas released a statement:

“In accordance with the information that we have received from our local representative in Burgus, an explosion took place on a bus which drove our tourists near the airport. We have sent our representatives to the airport as well as to the nearby hospital in order to provide any assistance. At the same time, we are sending our representatives from Israel on the first flight which is set to leave after midnight.”

12:45 P.M.

A witness to the attack told Israeli army radio that the explosion was probably detonated by a suicide bomber near the entrance of the bus.

12:27 P.M.

Bulgarian television reports that the death toll has reached 7.

The Explosives were placed in the trunk of the bus, according to Burgus Mayor Dimitar Nikolov.

Israeli officials are on their way to Bulgaria to assist in identifying and treating victims.

Bulgaria’s president and prime minister are on their way to the scene.

11:52 A.M.

A bus full of Israeli tourists exploded this afternoon in Bulgaria, outside of the airport in Burgas.

At least 3 people were killed and 20 injured in the Burgas Airport explosion in Eastern Bulgaria around 5:30 p.m. local time.  The airport has been temporarily shut down and all flights are being directed to the airport of Varna.

Local media reports in Bulgaria say that the tourists arrived from Tel Aviv and about 40 passengers boarded a bus before it exploded in the airport parking lot.

Bulgaria’s Ministry of Health has announced that they will be setting up a crisis headquarters in the city to deal with the explosion.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has also confirmed that there were casualties.

In January, Danny Shenar, a security official with Israel’s Transportation Ministry, warned of a terrorist threat in Bulgaria and asked European security services to take it seriously.

“Two days ago I got in touch with my colleagues in Sofia and asked them to tighten security measures around buses carrying groups of Israeli tourists between airports and hotels or vacation houses. We are well aware that buses are a weak spot in regards to security,” Shenar said, according to the Sofia News Agency Novinite.

18 years ago today, an explosion at the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association in Buenos Aires killed 85 people.  Argentine prosecutors accused Iran and Hezbollah of being behind the attack.

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