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Bomb explodes in front of weekly newspaper building

(IPI/IFEX) - February 14, 2011 - The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), strongly condemns yesterday's bomb attack on the weekly Galeria in Sofia, Bulgaria.

A bomb exploded around 5:40 a.m. in front of the headquarters shared by the weekly publication and the Millennium publishing house in the central part of Sofia.

Galeria is known for reports that have criticised the Bulgarian government, and the publication has reported on wiretaps dealing with alleged corruption among high-ranking officials. These include last month's publication of transcripts of taped phone conversations between senior government officials and the chief of the country's Customs Office about alleged pressure on officials to protect certain companies from tax investigations.

This is not the first attack on a media company in Bulgaria since the country joined the European Union. Assailants attacked the Varna office of Bulgarian TV SKAT on 3 February 2010 with a Molotov cocktail, and the head office of TV SKAT in Burgas was the target of a similar attack just one day earlier.

SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said: "SEEMO asks Bulgarian officials to conduct a professional investigation. It is important to obtain details about the circumstances behind this attack. We expect Bulgarian authorities to investigate the matter fully and bring those responsible to justice. This means not only finding the persons who actually planted the bomb, but also those who organised the incident."

He added: "SEEMO has registered many attacks and threats against investigative journalists and their family members in Bulgaria in recent years. It is particularly unfortunate that such incidents are still occurring despite the fact that Bulgaria is a member of the European Union. Bulgarian authorities must do everything in their power to provide safe working conditions for journalists."
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