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Acid Thrown at Bulgarian Reporter

May 11, 1998

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) _ An assailant splashed acid in the face of a Bulgarian crime reporter at a bus stop today, and she had to get herself to the hospital because bystanders were afraid to help.

Anna Zarkova, top crime writer for Bulgaria’s Trud daily, was hospitalized under police guard after being attacked by a young man near her home in a residential area of Sofia, said Dobromir Pelov, an Interior Ministry spokesman.

The acid seriously burned Zarkova’s face, left eye, neck and arms. It was unclear what kind of acid was used.

The assailant fled, Pelov said.

Trud editor-in-chief Tosho Toshev said the 20 bystanders were afraid to help Zarkova, fearing entanglement with police, so she had to find herself a car to take her to a hospital.

``When she called me, it obviously hurt her a lot, she cried, she was looking for a car,″ Toshev told Bulgarian state radio. ``Probably she won’t be able to see with her left eye.″

Zarkova’s investigative reports about organized crime and corruption have won several Bulgarian journalism prizes.

She and her colleagues received phone threats after each story that named specific suspects and documents, Toshev said.

Earlier this year, a homemade bomb exploded outside Trud’s offices in downtown Sofia. Four suspects have withdrawn initial confessions that they planted the explosive.

As elsewhere in the former Soviet bloc, crime has risen sharply in Bulgaria since the collapse of communism in 1989.

Update hourly