Bulgarian gang boss Evelin Banev's daughter kidnapped

  • Published

The 10-year-old daughter of a Bulgarian gangland boss has been abducted outside her house in the capital Sofia.

Evelin Banev's daughter Lara was being driven to school when the kidnappers pulled up in a vehicle, and shot the driver before seizing her, police say.

The driver is expected to survive the attack. Police said they were hunting the abductors.

Banev, also known as Brendo, is currently in an Italian jail awaiting trial on charges of drug trafficking.

The 49-year-old was sentenced by a court in Sofia last month to seven-and-a-half years in jail after being found guilty of heading an organised crime gang and money laundering.

He is accused by Italy of trafficking cocaine from Latin America to Europe between 2004 and 2007, smuggling some 40 tonnes of cocaine into Italy alone each year.

Kalin Mihov, a former head of Bulgaria's anti-drug police department, said it was possible Lara was kidnapped in order to warn Banev to stay silent during the forthcoming trial, the AP reports.

The masked men were in a stolen BMW X5 car when they opened fire early on Tuesday morning in the Sofia suburb of Boyana, Bulgarian media report.

"All roads into and out of Sofia have been blocked," the city's police said in a statement. "All operational and search measures are being taken to establish the location of the child."

This is thought to be the first high-profile abduction of a child in the eastern Balkan country.

Twenty-five people were arrested in 2009 over the kidnapping of some 16 wealthy Bulgarians for ransom. Four of the suspects were given prison sentences last year.

Bulgaria remains one of the poorest countries in the EU, and corruption and organised crime is rife.

Germany said on Sunday it would veto any attempt to allow Bulgaria and its neighbour Romania to enter the passport-free Schengen zone when EU ministers discuss the issue later this week.