Masked men kidnap daughter of gangland boss

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Three masked man have abducted the ten-year-old daughter of a convicted Bulgarian gangland boss in a brazen daylight attack in the capital, Sofia..

Driving a 4x4, the three men yesterday morning blocked a car taking the daughter of Evelin Banev to school, shot and wounded its driver and abducted the girl, police said in a statement. The driver was hospitalised but his life was not in danger.

“Police blocked roads into and out of Sofia. All operational and search measures are being taken to establish the location of the child,” the statement said.

Banev, 49, was arrested in Italy last May in an international police operation dubbed “Cocaine Kingpins” involving Bulgarian, Italian, French, Swiss and Spanish authorities. Italian police said Banev’s gang was responsible for smuggling around 40 tonnes of cocaine into Italy per year.

A Bulgarian court last month sentenced Banev – known as “Brendo” – to seven years in prison for laundering drug-dealing profits of over €2 million (£1.7m). Italy handed him to Bulgaria for that trial, but he is now back in an Italian jail awaiting trial for drug trafficking.

Successive governments have failed to solve hundreds of high-profile contract killings that have plagued Sofia and other cities since the late 1990s. The issue has contributed to Bulgaria’s exclusion from the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone.

Yesterday’s abduction was the first since 2009, when police arrested 25 people in connection with 16 kidnappings of rich and famous Bulgarians for ransom.