BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Dozens of small, old rocket warheads were stolen from a train carrying military equipment from Romania to Bulgaria, officials said Monday.
Authorities promised that the 64 warheads posed no danger to the public but offered varying explanations why.
The Romanian national police said there was no risk because they were not attached to rockets. Spokesman Florin Hulea declined to provide further details.
Two daily newspapers cited officials close to the investigation as saying the warheads did not contain explosives. The papers, Evenimentul Zilei and Adevarul, did not identify their sources.
Bulgaria's Economy Ministry said the warheads belonged to 122mm (4.8-inch) diameter Grad rockets, which are typically fired from vehicle-mounted multiple-rocket launchers.
It said in a statement the shipment was part of a transfer of "nonfunctional components and parts" for reprocessing at the VMZ factory — one of Bulgaria's largest military factories — in Sopot, central Bulgaria, where the components and parts were to be replaced and the warheads prepared for sale.
"The fuses (warheads) were transported separately from the projectiles," the ministry added.
Transport police in the central city of Brasov told the Mediafax news agency that the warheads were in four boxes in one of the cars on a train carrying equipment from a Romanian company that produces artillery shells and ground-to-ground and air-to-ground missiles.
Romanian officials also tried to portray the Saturday theft as accidental.
Eugen Badalan, a member of the parliamentary defense committee, said the thieves "had no idea what they stole," and prosecutors said they were investigating whether the components were stolen by scrap metal thieves.
However, only one of the eight cars on the 27-car train was broken into.
Mediafax reported that railway workers noticed the seals on a carriage door were broken, and the door was not properly closed, when the train reached Giurgiu, a Danube port that borders Bulgaria.
The Bulgarian Defense Ministry confirmed in a press release that the recipient of the fuses was a Bulgarian company, not its armed forces. It said the Interior Ministry's Dangerous Weapons Control Service had issued a permit for the transport of the delivery.
The train was loaded on Friday and stopped under guard overnight in the central Romanian town of Brasov, about 166 kilometers (103 miles) north of Bucharest, according to transport police. After leaving Saturday, it stopped for one hour in the mountain resort of Predeal.
Romanian national state company Romarm said the Bulgarian company was responsible for train security.
Associated Press Writer Veselein Toshkov contributed from Bulgaria
(This version CORRECTS Corrects the spelling of the word "fuses." Corrects punctuation in the first paragraph and the penultimate pargraph.)