Bulgarian spy chief: ‘Games might be hit’

SOFIA (AP) – Bulgaria’s intelligence chief says he is taking seriously indications that terrorists may target the June NATO summit in Istanbul and the August Olympics in Athens, a newspaper reported yesterday. «We do have such signals, and we take them very seriously,» General Kircho Kirov was quoted as saying by the independent Trud newspaper. «We have communicated all relevant information to our colleagues in the neighboring countries.» The newspaper report did not provide any details on the source of Kirov’s intelligence, and the general could not immediately be reached for comment. There is little hard evidence that Al Qaeda has operatives in the region. But most Balkan countries have lax border controls, and arms and explosives are easily bought in the region, which is home to some militants with ties to radical Islamic groups. Other Bulgarian officials have warned of possible terror threats in the region, especially during the Athens Olympics, and Bulgarian officials say they will work with Greek authorities and security personnel from the United States, Britain, Germany and Russia during the Games. Kirov was also quoted as saying that Bulgaria’s National Intelligence Service has information about possible terrorist plots to disrupt the June 30 transfer of power in Iraq. About 450 Bulgarian troops are serving in Iraq. In the Balkans, Kirov reportedly said, «We have information that similar terrorist structures plan to expand their perimeter of activities into the Balkans, Bulgaria included.» Bulgaria’s high level of organized crime could make the country an attractive target for terrorists, he was quoted as saying. «The organized criminal structures are connected with various groups of corrupted people, and corruption means that there are people who could be bought to assist the terrorists,» he reportedly said.