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Two army officers arrested for rocket thefts

11 june 2012, 10:02
©REUTERS/Ivan Milutinovic
©REUTERS/Ivan Milutinovic
Two Bulgarian army officers were on Friday arrested on suspicion of stealing 103 air-to-ground rockets from their airbase near the eastern city of Burgas, AFP reports citing army prosecutors.

The 103 unguided rockets were found stacked in a minivan during routine police road checks on Thursday night.

A sergeant and a major from the nearby Bezmer airbase were detained on Friday. If found guilty, the pair risk up to 15 years in jail.

Interior Ministry chief of staff Kalin Georgiev said investigators were trying to estblish if the pair were part of an organised crime group.

The alleged theft was not however thought to be linked to terrorism, he added.

The Bezmer airbase is one of four facilities jointly used by the Bulgarian and US forces under a 2006 deal.

The incident comes on the heels of a series of massive blasts at an arms depot in the nearby eastern village of Lozenets on Tuesday.

Three workers are still missing and nine more were injured in the accident blamed on improper handling of unexploded old munitions during their dismantling.

The accident sparked a public outcry, with media reports slamming widespread corruption in defence ministry tenders for the so-called utilisation of tonnes of old munitions from the Warsaw Pact era between 1955-1991.

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