Grenade Launcher Attack in Sofia Targeted Ex-Security Agent - IntMinIncidents | October 29, 2015, Thursday // 12:01| views
Special squads with the Interior Ministry inspecting the area around the incident on October 29, 2015. Photo by BGNES
Bulgarian Interior Ministry Rumyana Bachvarova has confirmed that a grenade launcher attack in a neighborhood next to downtown Sofia targeted Alexei Petrov, a former agent suspected of having ties to the criminal underworld.
Bachvarova has told lawmakers the attacker had hit a car owned by Petrov, one of whose bodyguards called 112 at 8:54. "The attack is likely to have taken place 15 minutes earlier."
The weapon used was indeed a grenade launcher, she said.
Reportedly, after the shot was produced, the attackers drove away in a red Opel.
However, Bachvarova has refuted earlier reports that the incident took place immediately next to his home.
Prosecutors have launched pretrial proceedings over attempted murder.
Private national NOVA TV station reportedly contacted Petrov and quotes him as saying he believed it was a "mistake" and no body had wanted to kill him.
This is the second attempt on Petrov's life after the one in 2002, at another site in the same central neighborhood. He was then heavily wounded.
In Parliament, where Bachvarova was informing of the events after being invited by MPs, news of the incident was received with outrage.
Valeri Simeonov, co-leader of the Patriotic Front, a nationalist coalition which backs the government, has warned such incident in broad daylight put Bulgaria "on equal footing with African and Latin American countries" in terms of criminal actvity.
Mihail Mikov, who heads Bulgaria's biggest opposition party BSP, has noted Bulgaria might be returning "to the years of the mutri", referring to the 1990s and early 2000s which were a period of increased criminal activity and infighting among the so-called "mutri", a name for members and heads of organized crime members and gangs acting all around the country at that time.
Who is Alexei Petrov?
Petrov, who had formerly worked for the Specialized Squad for Combating Terrorism, was exposed in 2008, by then Interior Minister Rumen Petkov, as an undercover agent at the State Agency for National Security, Bulgaria's domestic security and counter-intelligence service.
In the 1990s, he was involved in the insurance business, which at that time was notorious for the blackmailing practices used by some companies to "attract" customers. Until 1998, he had a share a security company along with Boyko Borisov, now Bulgaria's Prime Minister.
For some years he was facing a trial over allegedly having organized and been a member of an organized criminal gang.
The Octopus trial was set to continue in May, but after the detention and subsequent administrative action against Rumyana Chenalova, the judge who was in charge of the case, it was again put on hold.
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