Gaffe as soldiers raid Bulgarian sunflower oil factory during NATO exercise

US troops taking part in a NATO exercise in Bulgaria in May 2021 have been accused of wrongly storming a sunflower oil factory.
US troops taking part in a NATO exercise in Bulgaria in May 2021 have been accused of wrongly storming a sunflower oil factory. Copyright Dilyana Gaytandzhieva/@dgaytandzhieva
Copyright Dilyana Gaytandzhieva/@dgaytandzhieva
By Euronews with AP
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The owner of the factory said on Wednesday that he had filed a lawsuit against those responsible for the May 11 incident.

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A small business owner in Bulgaria has accused US soldiers of illegally storming his facility during a NATO exercise last month.

Marin Dimitrov, who owns machinery maker KIM Engineering in the southern town of Cheshnegirovo, told reporters he had filed a lawsuit against those responsible for the incident.

The military drill was held across Bulgaria, Estonia and Romania and involved more than 7,000 paratroopers from 10 NATO countries.

On May 11, American soldiers in southern Bulgaria entered and cleared a building next to an airfield they thought was part of the training area, but that turned out to be a privately owned factory.

“No weapons were fired at any time during the interaction,” the Army statement said.

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said it was “absolutely unacceptable to have the life and calm of Bulgarian citizens put at risk by military units, be they part of the Bulgarian or foreign armed forces.”

“Exercises in Bulgarian territory involving our Allies should boost the sense of security and trust in collective defence, instead of causing tension among Bulgarians,” Radev said.

The US Embassy in Bulgaria offered apologies to the business and its employees.

“We always learn from these exercises and are fully investigating the cause of this mistake," the embassy said in a statement. "We will implement rigorous procedures to clearly define our training areas and prevent this type of incident in the future.”

_This story has been updated.
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