Bulgarian Football Fan Clubs Storm Homes of Notorious Roma Boss

Crime | September 24, 2011, Saturday // 22:18

Football fan club members, described by some media as "hooligans", from Bulgaria's Plovdiv have flocked to the village of Katunitsa, storming and setting on fire properties of notorious Roma boss Kiril Rashkov, aka Tsar Kiro, the police have confirmed.

The football hooligans staged the assault late Saturday night, amidst escalating ethnic tensions, after a 19-old ethnic Bulgarian boy was run over by ethnic Roma Friday night.

Some 200 soccer hooligans from the fan clubs of Lokomotiv Plovdiv FC and Botev Plovdiv FC took part in attack on three homes owned by the clan of Roma boss Kiril Rashkov in the village of Katunitsa, while the locals shied away from partaking in the violence, the bTV correspondents reported.

The hooligans' outburst started at about 8 pm Saturday night, and was over by 10 pm, as one of Tsar Kiro's homes was essentially destroyed.

The hundreds of police and gendarmerie officers brought to Katunitsa adopted a hands-off policy and abstained from tackling the arsonists.

According to Kalin Georgiev, Chief Secretary of the Interior Ministry, who is on the spot, the policy was adopted in order to avoid a further escalation of tensions, and potential casualties if the police clashed with the hooligans.

The major job of the gendarmerie instead has been to secure the spots for the fire fighters who arrived shortly to tackle the numerous fires set by the hooligans.

Most of the attackers are wearing masks and wigs. Police and gendarmerie officers from Plovdiv, Smolyan, Stara Zagora, and Pazardzhik have occupied the entire village of Katunitsa for the night.

Tensions could escalate further on Sunday when the funeral of the murdered 19-year-old Bulgarian boy will take place. The police are still searching for the 55-year-old Roma driver who is reported to have killed him.

The members of the Rashkov clan have been evacuated by the police away from the village of Katunitsa. Interior Secretary Georgiev has refused to reveal their location for safety reasons.

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