bulgaria ammunition factory
© Arsenal website
A suspected accidental explosion at a factory in the town of Kazanlak owned by Bulgaria's leading manufacturer of firearms has left one person dead and several injured.
An explosion in the Arsenal firearms factory in the Bulgarian town of Kazanlak on Tuesday left one person dead and two missing, with another hospitalised in a critical condition, according to media reports.

Focus Radio reported that there are also workers buried in rubble at the building and efforts to rescue them are underway.

The local prosecution is investigating the case as an accident and has warned that there might be a second explosion.

According to Bulgarian National Radio, the blast was caused by technological disruptions related to violations of workplace safety protocols.

The scale of damage in the building and in the nearby area is so far unknown. The factory workshop where the blast happened specialised in producing pyrotechnics and flares.

Arsenal is the leading firearms and military equipment manufacturer in Bulgaria.

It has been claimed that the company has been involved in weapons exports to war zones via third countries. Between 2015 and 2017, various publications alleged that Arsenal was selling weapons to the so-called Islamic State, which the company denied.

While Bulgaria has abstained from sending heavy weapons to the Ukrainian army and made individual agreements to help the country during the Russian invasion, both international and local investigations have indicated that Bulgaria is actually selling weapons meant for Ukraine, mainly through Poland and Romania.

The country's recently ousted governing coalition gave mixed responses to these allegations. Kornelia Ninova, who was Minister of Economy and Industry from 2021-22 and is the leader of the pro-Moscow Bulgarian Socialist Party, denied such claims shortly before the start of the war, while former Prime Minister Kiril Petkov told The Guardian in June that President Rumen Radev was "very strongly against the delivery of weapons to Ukraine via third countries",

Arsenal's business has been expanding - in early September, Bulgarian News Agency reported that 1,000 new positions at the factory had been announced.