I know that I am not breaking any news here. In fact, I wasn’t sure if it was even something that I should write about here but this morning I decided that it was. Last Wednesday evening the Bulgarian Black Sea town of Burgas was rocked by a suicide bomber. A bomb went off killing five Israeli tourists and the Bulgarian bus driver. Scores of people where injured in the attack as well.
The bombing has been all over the news from CNN to the BBC and major newspapers like the New York Times as well as the Bulgarian media and English language media in Bulgaria. Aside from the initial report of the bombing I’ve found it nearly impossible to keep up with the details. Many reports contradict each other while others claim to have new information but in fact just rehash old details.
The NYT has been covering this story since Wednesday and over the course of the last few days has reported on the event, the release of video tape from the airport with the suspected bomber and today they are reporting that the official inquiry is interested in finding and identifying the bomber’s accomplices. The reporting here seems measured and serious while many of the other pieces I’ve read seem rushed and sloppy.
It’s an interesting problem. This is the first terror attack in Bulgaria so neither the Bulgarian police nor the Bulgarian media has a precedent for how to handle or investigate a bombing like this. Experts have been called in from around Europe and from the States to help investigate the actual bombing and plenty of people and new papers have been speculating about the identity of the dead suicide bomber, which groups he has links to and who helped him pull this off.
So what does all of this mean for those of us living in Bulgaria?
Well, it means lots of questions. Questions that no one seems able to answer. The big question remains: who was the suicide bomber. Nearly a week later no one seems to know. This also means that there’s been lots of blame shifted around and plenty of accusations have been passed out. All of this has been topped of with a large dose of political posturing.
While the questions remain: who was the bomber and what group was he working with. There are no clear answers. As such it appears that the media is in the process of substituting answers with conjecture and supposition. It would be almost laughable the headlines that are emerging, if it wasn’t for the fact that at its core the stories are about a terrorist attack.
There’s this headline: Bulgarian Terrorist Attack Bomber May Have Been Deluded Drug Smuggler. But my favorite right now is this one: Suicide Bomber May Have Arrived from Schengen. Oh because that seems to seem to be one of the two ways he could arrive given the fact that on flights into Bulgaria you either arrive from a Schengen country or a non-Schengen country. I am also not sure what the exact point of this distinction is given the fact that Bulgaria while part of the EU is not a part of Schengen. So it’s not as if the bomber just slipped across any boarders into Bulgaria. Well, I guess he could have but that might hurt our chances of joining Schengen.
Then there’s this completely and totally unhelpful headline: New Controversies Emerge in Bulgaria Suicide Bombing Leads. Turns out if you read the article that the autopsy of the bomber’s head may have revealed that he was mentally retarded (their words not mine). I had no idea that this was possible. Then again all of my forensic science knowledge comes from Law & Order SVU, CSI, Bones and to a lesser extent NCIS.
So I’ll end on a personal note. I feel very removed from this whole thing. It’s summer time in Bulgaria. Most of my work friends are traveling and many of my Bulgarian friends are gearing up for holiday as well. So there’s very little routine driving my days at this point. This attack while unsettling seems to have had a specific target group–Israeli tourists–and while things like this could happen anywhere the Burgas airport seems much less secure than say the Sofia airport terminal 2 or so I tell myself.
All of this said, I’ll continue to continue to follow this story as there’s this intangible something that continues to pull me back to it. That and I’m dying to know who the bomber was and his back story.