Israel has not admitted a role in those strikes, but it and others have accused Iran of alleged reprisal missions, including a February bombing in New Delhi that wounded an Israeli diplomat’s wife and the discovery of a cache of explosives in Bangkok that Thai officials claim was linked to a plot to target Israeli diplomats. Iran has denied involvement.
In Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, security officials in March announced the arrest of 22 suspects allegedly hired by Iran for terrorist attacks against the U.S. and Israeli embassies and other Western-linked sites.
Wednesday’s attack also coincided with the 18th anniversary of the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. An Argentinian magistrate has concluded Iran was behind that attack.
Israeli officials also long have feared that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrilla group would try to attack Israelis abroad. Hezbollah has accused Israel of assassinating a top leader in Damascus, Syria, in 2008 and vowed to avenge the killing. Israel has never admitted involvement in the mysterious explosion.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on Israel’s Channel 2 TV said there was no advance intelligence on an attack in Bulgaria. But counterterrorism expert Boaz Ganor said Iran and Hezbollah were the most likely culprits. He told the Associated Press that all the indications pointed toward them. He also cited the arrest in recent days of a Hezbollah operative in Cyprus who was suspected of preparing a similar attack.
“This is probably a parallel operation and likely not the last in a series,” he said. “All this looks like Hezbollah, Iran or a combination of the two.”
Aron Heller reported from Jerusalem.