The Burgas Bus Bombing

20.07.2012 § Leave a comment

It was my last night in Rome that I heard the news: a bus had exploded on July 18, 2012 at the airport outside the Bulgarian seaside town of Burgas in a suspected suicide attack, killing 5 Israeli tourists and the Bulgarian bus driver and injuring 32 others, some critically. It appeared to have been a targeted attack against Israeli citizens who were boarding a shuttle bus to take them to a hotel. Israeli officials have accused Iran of masterminding the attacks, although Iran has vehemently denied involvement.

I am deeply saddened by this tragedy, and I extend my condolences to the families of the five Israelis and one Bulgarian who died. I hope we hear of no further casualties in the coming days. I am also deeply disturbed by the precedent that this attack might set. Terrorism will always shift its targets away from places with heightened security. In this political climate, it would be far more difficult to carry out an attack in London or New York or at any of the world’s airports. So, a plot was hatched to strike in a country that has not had a terrorism incident since 1925 for over 20 years, sparking fear in the hearts of Bulgarians, as well as Israeli citizens around the world. I suddenly find myself acutely aware of the risks we are exposed to in our daily lives, and the inability of any amount of security to keep us entirely safe.

My airplane landed at Sofia airport some 16 hours after the incident. My ID was checked an extra time upon boarding the plane in Rome, and greeters had been kept from entering the Terminal 2 building in Sofia when we arrived. Police presence was also heightened, and I read that 200 additional police had been dispatched to the resorts where Israeli tourists are currently staying. These are necessary measures, but there’s just as much of a chance that subsequent targets will be elsewhere entirely.

Note: Unfortunately, an even more recent tragedy has eclipsed this attack in the global news media. A gunman opened fire on a crowd of moviegoers at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado on July 20, 2012, killing 12 and injuring 59. My thoughts are also with the families of the victims of this shooting.

We are not living in a safe world, are we?

Edit: A reader pointed out that a series of terrorist acts were carried out by “pro-Turkish” cells within Bulgaria in the mid-80’s, escalating ethnic tensions and resulting in the forced assimilation or deportation of much of Bulgaria’s ethnically Turkish minority in 1989, in a period known as the Revival (or Rebirth) Process. So there were in fact terrorist acts more recent than the 1925 bombing of St. Nedelya church.

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