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Friday, April 20, 2018

Two suspects linked to the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah will be tried in absentia for a deadly July 2012 suicide bombing that targeted Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, prosecutors revealed on Friday.

Meliad Farah and Hassan El Hajj Hassan, both natives of Lebanon, will be tried on charges of terrorism over the attack on a tour bus filled with Israelis vacationing in the Black Sea city of Burgas. The Bulgarian bus driver and fi ve Israelis, one of whom was pregnant, were killed in the blast. More than 30 others were injured.

An investigation carried out by Bulgarian authorities has tied Farah, an Australian citizen, and Hassan, a Canadian citizen, to Hezbollah. The location of the two suspects is unknown, but in 2013 Bulgarian authorities said that both are believed to be in Lebanon.

“The indictment has been fi led with the Specialised Criminal Court,” said Rumiana Arnaudova, a spokeswoman for Bulgaria’s prosecutor’s office. “The two men, for whom a red notice has been issued by Interpol, are charged with terrorism.”

The suicide bomber was identified by Bulgarian officials as Mohamad Hassan El Husseini, a dual Lebanese-French citizen. Bulgarian authorities have released a video showing Husseini pacing in the terminal with a large backpack before the bombing.

The attack was one of the factors that led the European Union to designate Hezbollah’s “military wing” as a terrorist organization in July 2013. Critics of the EU’s decision point out that even Hezbollah acknowledges that its political and military leadership is unified, not divided between separate wings.