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Bomb explodes at home of Bulgarian crime reporter

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SOFIA, Apr 6 (Reuters) A powerful bomb exploded in front of the apartment of a Bulgarian television reporter early today, smashing windows and walls in a seven-storey building but causing no casualties, police said.

The attack came as Bulgaria tries to prove it can crack down on rampant high-level corruption and organised crime to the European Union, which will decide on May 16 whether to let the Balkan state join in 2007 or delay it by a year.

Journalist Vasil Ivanov said he believed the bomb was intended to kill him following a string of investigative stories in which he uncovered a number of acts of fraud, inmate abuse at prisons, and other crimes.

''My family was inside and it's a wonder nobody was injured, because all the walls on the floor are smashed,'' Ivanov told Nova Television, where he works.

He said he would not stop doing his stories, the latest of which uncovered prisoner abuse at Sofia Central prison.

Ivanov's station and deputies from the ruling Socialist-led coalition condemned the attack.

''It is disturbing that this happened when the country's security is at the centre of our EU partners' attention. Not only the home of a journalist was bombed, but freedom of speech was threatened,'' the deputies said in a statement.

''We have the necessary political will to work to guarantee the safety of Bulgarian citizens and the country.'' Bulgaria has promised Brussels it will jail top-level officials who have made corrupt deals and convict powerful organised crime bosses who diplomats say control large parts of the economy.

Underworld gangs have killed scores of people in a string of bloody shootings, bombings and other assassinations since 2001, but authorities have yet to convict a single suspect for any of the murders.

EUTERS OM BS1833

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