Bulgarian customs official killed

An unidentified gunman on Monday killed a senior customs official and her driver in a residential district in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, police said.

Shinka Manova, 45, who was in chief auditor at the Customs Agency, died when she was shot in her car while on her way to work and died on the spot. Her driver, 25, was injured and died en route to the hospital, according to the AP.

Police refused to provide other details.

The slaying was similar to a string of killings in the past few years that police have blamed on turf wars between rival crime syndicates. Since 2003, more than 30 people have been killed in such attacks, but most of them have been suspected criminals.

The head of the Customs Agency, Asen Asenov, deplored Manova's killing and said "it was unlikely that her activity as a directorate head in the agency could have provoked such a crime."

The European Union, which Bulgaria aims to join in 2007, has warned the country to curb organized crime and overhaul its ineffective criminal justice system, otherwise its membership could be delayed.

T.E.