A bomb that killed five Israeli tourists on a bus in Bulgaria last month, prompting stepped-up counterterrorism activities in New York City, may not have been a suicide bombing as originally thought, NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly said Friday.
The blast on a tourist bus in the Black Sea city of Burgas was initially believed to have been the work of a suicide bomber whose identity remains unknown. Investigators later said at least one other person may have been involved. But investigators now believe the bomb, which reportedly was in the backpack of the bomber and placed in the luggage compartment, was remotely detonated.
"It now appears that it may not have been intended to be a suicide bomber," Kelly said. Rather, the bomber may have intended to get off the bus after placing the bomb.
"It was remotely detonated, and we believe the bearer of that pack was the one who put it on the bus and who died as a result of the detonation, but it is not clear it was a suicide event," explained Kelly, who labeled his information "informed speculation" from within the intelligence community.
Asked if the remote detonation was intentionally done by a co-conspirator to eradicate the bomber, Kelly answered, "We are not certain."
The incident, which took the life of the bus driver as well, fueled the rhetoric of Israeli politicians who believed Iran and its ally Hezbollah were behind the bombing. Iran has denied any involvement.
Kelly said the city is watching events in the Middle East as tensions increase over possible military action to take out Iran's nuclear program.
"We have to be concerned over any retaliation. We have a large Jewish population here," he said.