Bus that was damaged in Burgas attack
Bus that was damaged in Burgas attack Reuters

The terrorist who killed five Israelis in Bulgaria last July did not intend to die in the attack, but wanted to return to Lebanon with his two Hizbullah-linked accomplices, the government said Thursday.

The man "was not a kamikaze but only meant to put the ... explosive device in the baggage compartment of the bus and detonate it later from afar," Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said, according to AFP.

Tsvetanov told reporters that remote control equipment found at the scene showed the bomb could have been detonated remotely from around 10 kilometers (six miles) away.

"The damages would have been much bigger then," Tsvetanov said.

Instead, the device exploded, killing the bomber, five Israeli tourists and the Bulgarian driver of their bus at Burgas Airport on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast on July 18, 2012.

The minister added that he believed the bomber intended to flee Bulgaria and return to Lebanon, as his two accomplices did.

On Tuesday, Tsvetanov said these two people had been identified as Australian and Canadian passport holders who "belonged to the military wing of Hizbullah."

The bomber's name is still not known, with his DNA and fingerprints failing to find matches in international databases. Investigators also believe a fourth person was involved.

Israel had immediately blamed Iran and its "terrorist proxy" Hizbullah for the attack, and this week's announcement led to renewed calls on the European Union to blacklist the Lebanese Shiite movement.

Iran has denied any involvement.

"Our partner services traced back categorically the whole movement of these two persons from their entry into Europe from Lebanon to their return via European territory back to Lebanon after the Burgas terrorist attack," Tsvetanov said.

Bulgaria has said it relied on cooperation from Lebanon to detain the two but Tsvetanov did not say on Thursday whether any arrest warrants had been issued.

Ottawa said Wednesday that the Canadian passport-holder in question was born in Lebanon but lived in Canada only between the ages of eight and 12, during which time he obtained citizenship.