Two U.S. defense workers injured in Bulgarian blast sent to Germany

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 09, 2015 6:50 AM

SOFIA (Reuters) - Two U.S. government defense contractors who were injured in a blast at a shooting range in Bulgaria have been moved to a U.S. military hospital in Germany, an official said.

Another American contractor was killed and two Bulgarians injured when a rocket-propelled grenade malfunctioned during experimental shootings at the military range at the central village of Anevo on Saturday, officials said.

Bulgarian prosecutors have opened an investigation into the incident but authorities have so far declined to comment on what caused it or what the Americans were doing there.

One of the U.S. Department of Defense contractors, aged 38, suffered serious leg, hand and rib injuries and was in a stable condition after three operations, said a spokeswoman for the Bulgarian hospital where the injured were initially taken.

Another 46-year old man had less serious leg injuries, said the press officer from the hospital in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv.

"The two U.S. citizens were transported late on Monday to a U.S. military hospital near the Germany city of Ramstein," she said, adding that a Bulgarian translator and instructor were in a stable condition and staying in Plovdiv.

Bulgaria's economy ministry has said the shooting range was hired by Bulgarian private arms company Alguns for training and the company also owned the grenade, produced in 1984 by a Bulgarian military plant.

Local media speculated that Alguns was trying to sell the grenades - though the ministry said the company had not asked it to issue any export licenses.

No one was immediately available for comment from Alguns or the U.S. embassy in Bulgaria.

(Reporting By Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Andrew Heavens)