Hezbollah hits out after Bulgaria bus bomb report
- 6 February 2013
- From the section Middle East
Hezbollah has rejected a Bulgarian investigation that blamed it for a deadly 2012 bus bombing which killed five Israeli tourists and a bus driver.
The Lebanese Shia group's deputy leader said Israel was waging an "international campaign" against Hezbollah that would have no effect.
The Bulgarian report said two suspects were members of Hezbollah's armed wing.
The report prompted Israel's PM to call for Hezbollah to be banned as a terror group by EU nations.
Benjamin Netanyahu said the group had built a "worldwide terrorist" network and was planning attacks in two dozen countries.
Speaking a day after Bulgarian politicians and European police experts said the bomb plot had "obvious links" to Hezbollah, the group's deputy leader strongly denied the accusation.
The Bulgarian report was part of "allegations and incitements and accusations against Hezbollah" driven by Israeli paranoia over Hezbollah's continued military strength in southern Lebanon, he said.
"All these accusations against Hezbollah will have no effect, and do not change the facts," Naim Qassem said, according to Reuters news agency.
"We will not submit to these pressures and we will not change our priorities. Our compass will remain directed towards Israel."
Israel was quick to blame Hezbollah and Iran for the bus bombing in Burgas, on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast.
Tehran has always denied involvement, but Hezbollah has made no comment until now.
In Bulgaria, the country's foreign minister defended the Hezbollah allegation on Wednesday as commentators questioned whether Sofia had enough evidence to be certain of its claim.
"If Bulgaria did not have enough arguments to announce yesterday that the traces in this attack lead to Hezbollah's military wing, we would not have done it," Nikolay Mladenov told a TV station.
Analysts had questioned how Bulgaria's police and government were confident enough of their evidence to make the link to Hezbollah.
The country inevitably "relied heavily on resources from foreign security services" Tihomir Bezlov from the Centre for the Study of Democracy, a Sofia think-tank, told the AFP news agency.
Others described Bulgaria's decision to accuse Hezbollah as part of a wider "game" linked to various conflicts in the Middle East, AFP reported.