April 6, 2006

Bomb demolishes home of Bulgarian crime reporter

SOFIA (Reuters) - A powerful bomb exploded in front of the
apartment of a Bulgarian television reporter early on Thursday,
smashing windows and walls in a seven-story building but
causing no casualties, police said.

The attack came as Bulgaria tries to prove it can crack
down on rampant high-level corruption and organized crime to
the European Union, which will decide on May 16 whether to let
the Balkan state join in 2007 or delay it by a year.

Journalist Vasil Ivanov said he believed the bomb was
intended to kill him following a string of investigative
stories in which he uncovered a number of acts of fraud, inmate
abuse at prisons, and other crimes.

"My family was inside and it's a wonder nobody was injured,
because all the walls on the floor are smashed," Ivanov told
Nova Television, where he works.

He said he would not stop doing his stories, the latest of
which uncovered prisoner abuse at Sofia Central prison, while
his station condemned the attack.

"Journalists in Bulgaria feel threatened, because they are
doing their job," said Krasimira Krasteva, head of the news
department at Nova TV.

Bulgaria has promised Brussels it will jail top-level
officials who have made corrupt deals and convict powerful
organized crime bosses who diplomats say control large parts of
the economy.

Underworld gangs have killed scores of people in a string
of bloody shootings, bombings and other assassinations since
2001, but authorities have yet to convict a single suspect for
any of the murders.