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World Canadian suspect in Bulgaria bombing lives in Lebanon, Baird says

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill on Feb. 5, 2013.

CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS

An unnamed Canadian citizen stands accused of planning a deadly bus bombing attack in Bulgaria.

"I can confirm that the individual in question is a dual national who resides in Lebanon," Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday. "I believe he is at large," he added.

Mr. Baird, who stressed that the suspect hasn't lived in Canada for years, made his remarks just hours after a top Bulgarian official implicated the Canadian as one of three key players in the attack.

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Within Ottawa's security services, the Canadian connection has been known for some time, owing to co-operation with Bulgaria. Officials there say they've built a compelling case that the operatives worked for Hezbollah, partly because of information supplied by Canada.

Operational Hezbollah terrorists from Canada are rare, although a decade ago, a Canadian-Lebanese operative named Faouzi Ayoub was jailed in Israel for plotting a bombing, after being previously jailed in Romania for plotting to hijack a plane. Released by Israel, he is now considered a fugitive by U.S. officials who are seeking his arrest on terrorism charges.

On July 18, a bomb exploded aboard a Bulgarian bus taking a group of Israeli tourists to a hotel in the Black Sea resort of Burgas. The blast killed five Israelis, the bus driver and the bomber. Though he was initially described as a suicide bomber, some accounts now suggest the bomb was triggered by remote control.

The other two members of the conspiracy are said to have been Lebanon residents who gained admittance to Europe through bona fide Canadian and Australian passports.

"We have well-grounded reasons to suggest that the two were members of the militant wing of Hezbollah," Bulgaria's Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said Tuesday.

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