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Monday, July 24, 2006


Montana, 24 July (AKI) - International counter-terrorism experts will gather on Tuesday in the southwestern Bulgarian city of Montana for a joint training programme in which teams from central and South-eastern Europe will combat simulated terrorist attacks on a local hotel and chemical plants, Bugaria's disaster management ministry announced on Monday, quoted by the Sofia News Agency.

The joint anti-terror training programme will involve teams from Bugaria, Greece, Romania, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia - all NATO members - and aims to set up preventive measures and to train the teams to react effectively to an attack, the Sofia News Agency reports. NATO and EU representatives are taking part as observers.

The exercises have been codenamed European Union Terrorist Act Consequences Management in South-East Europe (EU TACOM-SEE).

Bulgaria - an EU candidate country which hopes to join the bloc early next year - has been fingered by top rights groups Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International - as one of several central and eastern European countries to have hosted so-called CIA "black sites" where Islamist terrorist suspects have allegedly been tortured. Other states included Serbia, Macedonia and Ukraine.

A report released last month by the Council of Europe pointed the finger at Poland and Romania for allegedly running of secret detention centres. Bosnia and Macedonia were among countries cited by the report in relation to cases involving specific individuals.

A classified document leaked to the press in January by Swiss military intelligence sources appeared to confirm that Bulgaria was one of several countries where the alleged CIA secret jails had been located.

The leaked document added that similar detention centres had also been set up in Ukraine, Kosovo and Macedonia. The Swiss military authorities last November reportedly intercepted a fax sent by Egypt's foreign minister to the Egyptian embassy in London that stated 23 Iraqi and Afghan prisoners had been interrogated at a Romanian military base on the Black Sea.

All countries alleged to have hosted secret CIA prisons and or to have been involved in flights involving the unlawful transfer of detainees have categorically denied such claims. Bulgaria and Romania are hoping to join the EU early next year. EU justice commissioner, Franco Frattini has warned EU member states and candidate countries such as Bulgaria and Romania they could face sanctions if the allegations prove to be true.
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