Canadian identified as a suspect in Bulgaria bus bombing
A Canadian man named Hassan El Hajj Hassan is suspected of participating in last summer's deadly bus bombing in Bulgaria, according to authorities there who are appealing for information about the man.
Bulgaria's ministry of the interior issued a statement asking for help with their investigation into the July 18, 2012 attack that targeted a bus full of Israeli tourists. The bombing killed five Israelis and one Bulgarian. The blast also killed the suspected bomber.
Hassan, along with an Australian national, Meliad Farah, also known as Hussein Hussein, are suspected of helping carry out the attack. The pair's whereabouts are unknown.
Hassan is listed as 25 years old and Hussein as 32 years old.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Thursday that it is his understanding that Hassan is a non-resident dual national who lived in Canada for several years as a child.
"That's really all I can say," Baird told reporters in Ottawa during a news conference with his Mexican counterpart.
Baird confirmed in February that a Canadian dual-national was known to be a suspect in the case, but did not name him. He said the man lived in Lebanon and he didn't know when he was last in Canada. He added that Canada was giving its "full support" to the investigation.
On Thursday Baird's office referred questions about Bulgaria's identification of Hassan to the RCMP. The RCMP would not provide any information. It would not confirm that Hassan has been identified as the suspect, nor whether the RCMP is involved in an investigation. When asked if Canadian authorities have been contacted by Bulgarian authorities, the RCMP said "contact the Bulgarian authorities."
Bulgaria's interior ministry believes the two men are members of Hezbollah's militant wing and entered Bulgaria with Canadian and Australian passports. The organization's militant wing has denied responsibility for the bombing.
It says the two men were spotted in various regions of Bulgaria in the weeks leading up to the attack and rented hotels and cars with fake identities.
Anonymity is being promised to anyone that comes forward with information about the suspects.
On Monday Baird praised the European Union's decision to add the armed wing of Hezbollah to a list of terrorist organizations, something Canada did in 2002.
"Hezbollah's foiled plot in Cyprus and its tragic bombing of a tourist bus in Bulgaria last year are but two examples of Hezbollah's growing global reach," Baird said in his statement.
He repeated his support for the decision when speaking Thursday, saying he's "thrilled" by it and that it's something Canada and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have been pushing for over the past few years.
With files from the Associated Press