SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) -- A brazen daytime bombing that killed seven people and injured dozens on a bus full of Israeli tourists was most likely a suicide attack, Bulgarian officials said Thursday. Israel stood by its claim that Iranian-backed Hezbollah was responsible and vowed to hit back.
The identity of the suspected bomber was still unknown but a Michigan driving license that he carried was a fake, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said.
"We worked on this with colleagues from the FBI and the CIA," Borisov said. "They said that there is no such person in their database."
The suspected bomber appeared on security camera tape for nearly an hour before the Wednesday attack, which gutted the bus at the airport in the quiet Black Sea resort of Burgas, 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of the capital, Sofia.
Borisov said he wants a photo of the suspect taken from the tape released and that a DNA expert is checking the suspect's fingerprints.
"The site is still under investigation," Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said. "Our main goal is within the day to gather the necessary evidence."
The Israelis had just arrived on a charter flight from Tel Aviv carrying 154 people, including eight children. Young Israelis said they were just boarding when the blast ripped through the white vehicle in the airport parking lot.
Officials lowered the death toll to seven after mistakenly reporting that someone had died overnight. The death toll now includes five Israelis, the Bulgarian driver and the suspected bomber.
No group has immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion fell upon Iran and its Lebanese proxy, the Hezbollah guerrilla group. Iran's state TV rejected accusations of Tehran's involvement, saying in a commentary Thursday that claims by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others were "ridiculous" and "sensational."
Israel stood by its stance.
"The direct executors are Hezbollah," Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday. "Israel will do all it can to find those responsible and punish them, both those who carried it out directly and those who dispatched them."
Despite repeated alerts and concerns about an Iranian-backed attack in recent months, Israel said it had no advance intelligence on a pending attack in Bulgaria.
The bombing was the latest in a series of attacks attributed to Iran that have targeted Israelis and Jews overseas and threatened to escalate a shadow war between the two arch-enemies.
Israel said a military plane carrying 33 Israelis injured in the bombing left Burgas for Israel, where they will be taken from the airport to the hospital. A Bulgarian government plane will fly 100 other Israelis who were not wounded but who wanted to cut short their vacation back to Israel.
The resort town of Burgas has become a popular travel destination in recent years for Israelis, particularly for recent high school graduates before they are drafted for mandatory military service.
Israel dispatched a military medical and relief team to Bulgaria, a European Union nation of 7.3 million that borders Greece and Turkey.
The Burgas airport was closed and traffic redirected. In Sofia, Mayor Yordanka Fandakova ordered a stronger police presence at all public places linked to the Jewish community. Some 5,000 Jews live in Bulgaria, most in the capital.
Amy Teibel in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
Saturday, May 25 2013 2:23 AM EDT2013-05-25 06:23:56 GMT
ATHENS, Ga. -- The Auburn women's golf team concluded its improbable run through the NCAA Championship Friday, carding a final-round 301 to finish the day in sixth place at 31-over 1183. The Tigers,More >>
The Auburn women's golf team concluded its improbable run through the NCAA Championship Friday, carding a final-round 301 to finish the day in sixth place at 31-over 1183.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 2:09 AM EDT2013-05-25 06:09:41 GMT
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Much like the regular season series against Tennessee, the Alabama softball team had its chances but fell by a single run, this time 3-2, in the first game of the Knoxville SuperMore >>
Much like the regular season series against Tennessee, the Alabama softball team had its chances but fell by a single run, this time 3-2, in the first game of the Knoxville Super Regional.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 12:40 AM EDT2013-05-25 04:40:27 GMT
This month, The American Urological Association took a new position on prostate cancer screenings. Now the AUA wants men between 55 and 69 to be tested. It is no longer recommended that screenings startMore >>
This month, The American Urological Association took a new position on prostate cancer screenings. Now the AUA wants men between 55 and 69 to be tested. More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 12:30 AM EDT2013-05-25 04:30:30 GMT
ATHENS, Ga. -- The No. 2 Alabama women's golf team struggled to the finish in the final round of the NCAA Championships on the par-72, 6,372-yard University of Georgia Golf Course Friday. The CrimsonMore >>
The No. 2 Alabama women's golf team struggled to the finish in the final round of the NCAA Championships Friday in Athens, Ga. More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 10:32 PM EDT2013-05-25 02:32:07 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) - Four girls killed in an Alabama church bombing during the civil rights movement are receiving the highest honor Congress gives to civilians. President Barack Obama signed legislationMore >>
Four girls killed in an Alabama church bombing during the civil rights movement are receiving the highest honor Congress gives to civilians. More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 10:18 PM EDT2013-05-25 02:18:18 GMT
The Alabama Department of Public Health is working with other health agencies to investigate an injectable anti-inflammatory drug prepared by a compounding manufacturer in Tennessee. Main Street FamilyMore >>
Alabama joins investigation of recalled drugMore >>
Friday, May 24 2013 10:09 PM EDT2013-05-25 02:09:48 GMT
Police have made an arrest in the homicide investigation stemming from a fatal shooting in Birmingham's West End Thursday.Christopher Gunn, 28, of Birmingham, has been charged with murder for the shootingMore >>
Christopher Gunn, 28, of Birmingham, has been charged with murder for the shooting death of 20-year-old Carlos Mims.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 9:53 PM EDT2013-05-25 01:53:02 GMT
BY Sean Cartell, SEC Digital NetworkHOOVER, Ala. -- Second-seeded LSU rallied from a one-run deficit with two outs in the top of the ninth inning Friday to defeat seventh-seeded Alabama, 3-2, and advanceMore >>
LSU rallied from a one-run deficit with two outs in the top of the ninth inning Friday to defeat Alabama, 3-2.More >>