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VSŽ chairman target of bomb attack

KOŠICE - A bizarre bombing last month apparently targeting the top figure in Slovakia's largest company, the iron and steel mill VSŽ in Košice, has baffled police but may point to disagreement with efforts to clean up the company. In the early morning hours of November 28, an unknown individual or group tossed an explosive through the fence toward the house of Ján Smerek, chairman of VSŽ's Board of Directors. No one was hurt in the bombing, but the explosion damaged the exterior of Smerek's house, located on the corner of Rastislavova and Milosrdenstva in Košice.
"There was a big flash and then a huge noise," said Smerek's neighbor, who declined to give his name. "Then the glass in my windows blew out. I looked through the window, but no one was anywhere. It was horrible, what I went through; it must have been awful for them as well."

KOŠICE - A bizarre bombing last month apparently targeting the top figure in Slovakia's largest company, the iron and steel mill VSŽ in Košice, has baffled police but may point to disagreement with efforts to clean up the company.

In the early morning hours of November 28, an unknown individual or group tossed an explosive through the fence toward the house of Ján Smerek, chairman of VSŽ's Board of Directors. No one was hurt in the bombing, but the explosion damaged the exterior of Smerek's house, located on the corner of Rastislavova and Milosrdenstva in Košice.

"There was a big flash and then a huge noise," said Smerek's neighbor, who declined to give his name. "Then the glass in my windows blew out. I looked through the window, but no one was anywhere. It was horrible, what I went through; it must have been awful for them as well."

"I have had no threats, or even indications of such, and therefore I have no idea as to what this attack signifies," a bewildered Smerek told the press, adding that his house would now be guarded. The Košice police force, who have no suspects at this time but are investigating the attack, refused to give any more information on the explosion, said the chief of the crime prevention division, Milan Stuler.

There is only speculation on what may have caused the unknown bomber to commit the act. But the leader of the company's labor unions who himself received mail bombs over the summer thinks it was designed to send Smerek a message not to clean up corruption at Slovakia's largest firm.

" It was a goal-oriented attack," said Jaroslav Gruber, chairman of VSŽ's General Council of Unions. "Smerek is trying very aggressively and systematically to wipe out the 'entrepreneurial' activities at VSŽ, to keep certain people from making millions illegally. And perhaps these people are 'thanking' him for it in this way."

Another possible reason is the decision made two weeks ago by VSŽ's management to change the corporation's strategy for importing raw materials, a plan that many local firms reason will result in less business with the steel works.

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