Anti-terrorism exercise scheduled for Sofia on March 22

An anti-terrorism exercise, involving the Sofia metro railway and police closing down streets in the centre of the city, is to be held on the night of March 22 – but was long-planned and had no connection to the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and Interior Minister Roumyana Buchvarova said.

Buchvarova told a news conference that after news of the March 22 terrorist attacks at Brussels’ Zaventem Airport and the Belgian capital’s metro, Bulgaria had carried out “100 per cent” border checks.

At the moment, there was no information about a real threat to Bulgaria’s external borders, said Buchvarova, who apart from her interior ministry portfolio is also one of the country’s deputy prime ministers.

She said that the anti-terrorist exercises being held in Sofia on the night of March 22 had been planned “months ago” and had nothing to do with the bombings in Brussels. The object of the exercises was to test the responsiveness of various state structures.

Buchvarova said that heavy security had been deployed at key sites, mainly at airports, railway and bus stations.

A meeting of the national operational staff, attended by Prime Minister Borissov, was to be held in the afternoon, she said.

Earlier, Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova said that for several weeks, security measures in the Bulgarian capital city had been strengthened.

Careful attention was being paid to all suspicious packages. In the past two days, there had been special operations to dispose of abandoned packages, Fandukova said.

Borissov earlier said that the exercise involving the Sofia metro had been planned “for a week, maybe two” and involved foreign services, the military and the Interior Ministry.

(Photo of Buchvarova: Interior Ministry press centre)



The Sofia Globe staff

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