Bulgarian Authorities Bust 2 for Arms Dump Explosives TheftCrime | October 22, 2011, Saturday // 10:56| views
Pictured: the explosion of the ammunition storage facility in Chelopechene shocked the Bulgarian capital Sofia on July 3, 2008. Photo by BGNES
Authorities in Bulgaria have established the perpetrators who stole a large amount of explosives from the former military depot in Chelopechene near the capital Sofia.
The news was reported by the Bulgarian Defense Ministry.
The two men, who were arrested, have criminal records. They have made full confessions and collaborated with military police with giving details on how the theft occurred and on the current location of the stolen explosives.
The thieves have moved only the shells while the gun powder and the projectiles have been hidden inside the depot. So far the investigators have not found evidence of any involvement of military servicemen.
In mid-October, the Defense Ministry has reported that a large amount of explosives was missing from Chelopechene.
14 unexploded 85-millimeter projectiles disappeared from Chelopechene then.
The Military Police and Interior launched an investigation in the case checking all places near the capital which purchase metal scrap and alerting local authorities to be on the lookout for the explosives.
Defense Minister, Anyu Angelov, vowed severe sanctions for the employees at Chelopechene, who had allowed for the theft to occur.
Three years ago, the Chelopechene disposal depot, storing tons of obsolete munitions outside Sofia was rocked by a series of powerful explosions, shaking apartment buildings and panicking thousands.
Around 7 am on July 3, 2008 the Bulgarian capital Sofia was shaken by powerful gunpowder explosions as a military storage facility located in the northeast Sofia Quarter of Chelopechene exploded. The explosions initially caused panic among the two-and-a-half million residents of the Bulgarian capital as the authorities including the Defense Ministry, the General Staff of the Army, and the Interior Ministry failed to react and explain the causes of the explosions for almost an hour after they started.
Fortunately, no persons were killed or injured in the Chelopechene explosions but the blasts did cause material damages in the northern suburbs of Sofia. The military storage site was reported to contain more than 20 tons of conventional explosives, which continued to go off for days after the initial blasts were over, and it took the authorities several weeks to secure the site.
The munitions storehouse explosions at Sofia's Chelopechene led the US State Department to include Bulgaria in the list of states with poorly maintained munitions depots. It said Bulgaria is the only NATO and EU member state with exploding munitions facilities.
According to a report by the US State Department, the Chelopechene incident, which panicked more than two million people in Sofia, together with a similar one in Uzbekistan on July 10, are "the latest in a series of incidents spanning many years and among the most recent manifestations of an international problem that has worsened since the end of the Cold War - government arms depots filled with ageing, unstable, poorly maintained, improperly stored, and weakly guarded munitions."
The US Department of State announced earlier this year it has assisted the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Bulgaria in safely destroying 500 surplus Man-Portable Air Defense Systems ( MANPADS ) missiles and 500 grip stocks ( launchers ). The Bulgarian Defense Ministry plans to completely clean the site by the end of the year.
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