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Sofia Bombing Mafia, Not Terrorist Related

January 20, 2004

By Christopher Deliso

An explosion in downtown Sofia on Monday, in which four people were killed and seven injured, comes as “…the latest in a series of violent attacks attributed to turf wars in Bulgaria’s organised crime,” according to the Bulgarian News Network.

In other words, despite al Qaeda fears every time a bomb goes off, US-friendly Bulgaria is still endangered more by its own groups than the outside world. The bomb, which was placed in an elevator shaft, killed businessman Stoil Slavov and 3 of his bodyguards. The owner of a fuel trading firm, Slavov also had connections with the owners of Bul Ins (a large insurance firm sharing the building that was attacked).

Like many Bulgarian bosses, Slavov had received various death threats, according to Bulgarian National TV, since 2001. The prominent and extremely wealthy Iliya Pavlev was assassinated last year.

BNN added that Bul Ins is a successor of SIC, “…a former insurance company suspected of being a front (for) an underworld group involved in illegal traffic and extortion rackets.” Macedonian National TV stated that the Bulgarian opposition is calling for changes in the Interior Ministry following this latest surfacing of the underworld.

However, the strong presence of mafia in government has made this hard in the past, and is currently hampering regional intergovernmental investigations of organized crime.

“The Bulgarian criminals we are investigating are unfortunately under the protection of the government,” one Macedonian law enforcement official told Balkanalysis.com.

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