A group of American soldiers mistakenly raided a small sunflower oil factory during a NATO military exercise in Bulgaria last month.
The US Embassy in the Balkan nation offered an apology to the business’s owners and staff after the troops burst in with guns drawn and cleared the building on May 11.
They had been taking part in Swift Response 2021, a US Army-led exercise across Estonia, Bulgaria and Romania involving more than 7,000 paratroopers from 10 NATO countries.
Members of the 173rd Airborne Brigade simulated seizing and securing the decommissioned Cheshnegirovo Air Base by clearing bunkers and other structures.
During the drill, they also entered and cleared a building next to the airfield which they thought was part of the training area but turned out to be full of civilians going about their daily work.
The owner of the factory, Marin Dimitrov, accused the soldiers of illegally storming his premises and told reporters he has filed a lawsuit against those responsible for the incident.
US soldiers mistakenly raided a small factory in Cheshnegirovo, Bulgaria during a NATO military exercise (Picture: AP)
The US Embassy later offered an apology to the business’ owner and staff (Picture: AP)
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’.
He added: ‘Exercises in Bulgarian territory involving our Allies should boost the sense of security and trust in collective defence, instead of causing tension among Bulgarians.’
The US Army insisted ‘no weapons were fired at any time during the interaction’, while the embassy added in a statement: ‘We always learn from these exercises and are fully investigating the cause of this mistake.
‘We will implement rigorous procedures to clearly define our training areas and prevent this type of incident in the future.’
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