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Sofia - The deadly bomb attack on Israeli tourists last month at Bulgaria's Burgas airport was planned abroad, but the explosive device was likely made in Bulgaria, a top interior ministry official said on Saturday.
“I can definitely say that the attack was plotted, prepared and implemented by people who are very far away from Bulgaria,” ministry chief of staff Kalin Georgiev told the 24 Hours newspaper in an interview.
“They come, act and leave,” he said, without elaborating on possible accomplices.
“We also cannot talk about so-called homegrown terrorism. The people who prepared the attack did not use local criminal structures for logistic support,” he added.
The explosive itself, however, was likely assembled on Bulgarian soil, Georgiev said.
“There is nothing specific about its make. Our experts estimate that it was assembled somewhere close as no one would risk carrying an activated improvised explosive device (IED),” he said.
The bomb's components were legally available in any shop both in Bulgaria and abroad, he noted.
“In the method of assembly or the fabrication of the IED, there are no characteristic features typical of any one terrorist structure,” he added.
The bomber's identity still remains a mystery over two weeks after the attack, even if investigators have reconstructed a portrait via computer technology based on his severed head, which was found at the site of the attack.
The probe is also looking at accomplices the bomber may have had, including a woman who reportedly stayed with him in a hotel before the attack, and another man.
It is unclear if the bomber, who killed five Israeli tourists and the Bulgarian driver of the bus on July 18, intended to die in the attack, whether he was killed as a result of his own mishandling of the device or whether it was detonated from a distance.
“I cannot categorically confirm any of the leads but I can say that he is not the typical suicide attacker. There is a high probability that the terrorist fell victim to his own error,” Georgiev said.
Confirming the attacker's identity was now “a prime task of the investigation,” which was progressing, even if slowly, he added.
“It is important to know that we are solving an equation, in which until recently there were only unknowns,” Georgiev told the newspaper.
Prosecutors said last week they were working with the authorities in Belgium, Britain and Finland in an effort to identify the suspect's origin.
The daily 24 Hours also reported on Saturday on a possible Lebanese link, although this was not confirmed by investigators. - Sapa-AFP