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Bulgaria: Sophisticated conspiracy in suicide bomb

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — A sophisticated group of conspirators was involved in the suicide bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver last week, and they spent about a month in Bulgaria before the attack, the country’s prime minister said Tuesday.

Boiko Borisov’s comments confirm suspicions the suicide attacker who targeted a bus filled with Israeli vacationers last Wednesday did not act alone. However, the prime minister didn’t say how many people were believed to have been involved in the attack on Israeli tourists in Burgas and also declined to back up Israel’s claims Iran and the militant group Hezbollah played roles.

Those involved used “leased vehicles, they moved in different cities so as not to be seen together, and no two of them can be seen in one place on any security camera,” Borisov said, speaking alongside visiting White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan.

He described the people behind the blast as “exceptionally skilled” and said they “observed absolute secrecy.” He also said DNA samples from the suicide bomber have been shared with all partner security services, but no match has been found in their databases.

“There was absolutely no chance of preventing such an act of violence,” Borisov insisted. “We could have only detected it by chance or if we had been informed by the services that such activities were under way in Bulgaria.”

He said officials believe he might have flow into Bulgaria from a European country in the Schengen passport-free travel zone, and Bulgaria is exploring that lead with officials in other European countries. Though a European Union member, Bulgaria doesn’t yet belong to the Schengen area.

“We do not know his identity, but it is known when he has arrived, the presumed flight, where he came from. It could turn out that he entered Bulgaria from a Schengen member country,” Borisov said.

Brennan also stopped short of blaming Iran or Hezbollah, both of which are U.S. nemeses, though he noted both Tehran and the Lebanese group had been implicated in attacks on civilians in the past. He said the U.S. has been working with Bulgaria during its investigation.

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