97 years since the Bloodiest Terrorist Attack in Bulgarian History

Society | April 16, 2022, Saturday // 12:20
Bulgaria: 97 years since the Bloodiest Terrorist Attack in Bulgarian History St Nedelya Church after the attack @LOSTBULGARIA.COM

April 16 marks the 97th anniversary of the bloodiest terrorist attack in Bulgarian history and one of the bloodiest in world history. On this date in 1925, 213 people died and 500 were injured in the church St Nedelya, in Sofia. For a long time (almost until September 11, 2001) the bloody event held the sad record for the most killed members of the political elite in one place.

On Saturday at 11.00 a.m. in the church St. Nedelya, a memorial service will be held on the occasion.

After the failure of the September Uprising of 1923, the Bulgarian Communist Party was banned and went underground. The Communists decided to retaliate. The leadership of the Military Organization of the Bulgarian Communist Party commissioned the assassination to one of the “six”, led by Peter Abadjiev, who in the second half of January 1925 came into contact with the cleric of St Nedelya Peter Zadgorski. With his help, for several weeks Petar Abadjiev and Asen Pavlov brought a total of 25 kg of explosives to the ceiling of the church. The plan for the assassination intended first the killing of a high-ranking man whose burial service was to gather the political and military elite inside the church so that the explosion could have a greater effect. The communists selected General Konstantin Georgiev, who was killed in front of the Seven Saints Church on April 14.

The funeral of General Georgiev was scheduled for April 16, Holy Thursday. At 7 o'clock in the morning, Zadgorski released the perpetrators of the attack on the ceiling of the building. The mourning procession entered the church at 3 p.m. The service was headed by the Metropolitan of Sofia and future Exarch Stefan. Initially, the coffin was placed next to the column to be blown up, but then it was moved forward due to the large number of people who came to the ceremony. Thus, by chance, the most prominent people present were far from the place of the explosion.

The blast erupted around 3:20 p.m., knocking down the main dome of the church, burying many people inside. The blast wave in the closed room inflicted additional damage.

The attack killed 134 people, others died later from their wounds. About 500 people were injured. Twelve generals, 15 colonels, 7 lieutenants, 3 majors, 9 captains, 3 deputies and many citizens, including children, were killed.

Coincidentally, all members of the government escaped with only minor injuries. Tsar Boris III was not in the church, as he attended the funerals of those killed in the attack on him in the Arabakonak Pass two days earlier.

On the evening of April 16, martial law was declared in the country, which remained in force until October 24. During the martial law, the government took repressive action against the far left.

Some of the organizers of the attack - Dimitar Zlatarev, Petar Abadjiev and Nikola Petrov - managed to escape through the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in the Soviet Union. The conspirators tried to kill their accomplice Petar Zadgorski but he managed to surrender to the police and made full confessions. The location of the leaders of the Military Organization of the Bulgarian Communist Party, Kosta Yankov and Ivan Minkov was quickly revealed, with the former being killed and the latter committing suicide before being captured.


St Nedelya Church today

The case of the attack was reviewed by a military court from May 1st to 11th in the barracks of the Fourth Artillery Regiment in Sofia. Marko Friedman, the highest-ranking indictee, admitted the organization received funding “via Vienna” from the Soviet Union, but shifted responsibility for the attack on Kosta Yankov and Ivan Minkov, who he said acted without the consent of the leadership of the Bulgarian Communist Party. Petar Zadgorski, Lieutenant Colonel Georgi Koev, in whose house Ivan Minkov was hiding, and Marko Friedman, head of a section in the BCP Military Organization, were sentenced to death. Stanke Dimitrov, Petar Abadjiev, Dimitar Grancharov, Nikolay Petrini and Hristo Kosovski were also sentenced to death in absentia, and the last three had already been killed in previous weeks. The death sentences were carried out publicly by hanging on May 27.

We will not forget, we will not forgive!

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