Funerals for Israelis killed in Bulgaria bombing
Family and friends attend the funeral of Itzik Kolengi, 28, who was killed in a suicide bombing in Bulgaria Wednesday, in Petah Tikva, Israel, Friday, July 20, 2012. Israeli officials blame the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah for the bombing that killed five Israeli tourists, a Bulgarian bus driver and the bomber in the Black Sea resort town of Burgas. / AP Photo/Dan Balilty
(AP) JERUSALEM - The five Israeli victims of a bombing in Bulgaria were laid to rest in a series of funerals Friday, two days after the bloody attack on a tourist bus at a popular vacation spot set off a new round of charges aimed at Iran.
Israeli and American officials have blamed the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah for the bombing, and authorities in several other countries were trying to confirm the identity of the suicide bomber.
Israel has pledged to hit back at Iran, charging that the bombing was just the latest in a series of attacks against Israelis and Jews abroad. Iran has denied involvement.
Five vacationing Israelis were killed in the blast in the popular Black Sea resort town of Burgas, along with a Bulgarian bus driver and the bomber.
Bulgarian authorities are examining evidence from the deadly blast, trying to confirm the identity of the bomber.
Bulgarian prosecutors said Friday that the man believed to have carried out the suicide attack had a short haircut, not the long hair seen in a security video, and tried to rent a car in the days before the bombing but was turned down because his ID appeared suspicious.
A witness said the bomber was wearing a wig. Afrodita Petrova, owner of the car rental company, told Bulgarian TV that the suspect had short dark hair and spoke English with an Arabic accent. She said it was the same person seen with long hair in the security video.
Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said the investigation had ruled out that the bomber was a Bulgarian citizen, but did not say how authorities know that.
"Now we are focused on finding out the identity of the suicide bomber and his possible whereabouts ahead of the blast," Tsvetanov said.
Authorities are examining his fingerprints, his DNA and his fake Michigan driver's license.
Security camera footage from before the attack showed the suspected bomber wandering in and out of the terminal, wearing a baseball cap over long hair, and a T-shirt, and plaid shorts, with a bulky backpack.
Tsvetanov said the backpack contained the bomb, which detonated in the luggage compartment of the bus. The bomber was believed to have been about 36 years old and had been in the country between four and seven days, Tsvetanov said.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov told foreign ambassadors in Sofia on Friday, "The investigation of the tragic incident is still going on, and until it is completed, we should not point the finger at anyone."
In the central Israeli city of Rishon Lezion, hundreds of mourners joined the family of Cochava Shriki, a 42-year-old woman who had recently become pregnant after years of fertility treatments.
"You were my baby sister, and ever since our mother died, I felt that I always had to protect you, to help you and to guide you," her sister wailed in agony. "Your death leaves a huge void in our lives that cannot be filled."
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