Following the overthrow of the Serbian government in the summer of 2011, the new regime there recognized the exiled Vidinites as the legitimate government of Bulgaria - not the Rhodopians, like the rest of the world recognized. They then began to arm and organize the exiles. But, it went no further at the time.
Following the start of the Second Yugoslav War, as one would expect, Rhodope declared support for the Macedonians and their allies - to the point of sending them aid.
Serbian movements in early 2012 led to the Rhodopian military increasing its presence on their border - something which the Serbs thought of as a threat. So, they acted, in their minds, accordingly - they increased their support of the Vidinites. Rather than just material support, they now gave them military support, and began to smuggle them into Rhodope. Most of the time, they managed this without Rhodopian knowledge, though enough were discovered that they knew something was up. As a result, they took precautions and moved troops around.
However, their actions proved too little, in many ways, because on the morning of April 6th, 2012, a bomb went off in the main square of Smolyan.
Bombings and Attacks at the Square
At 7:49 am, local time, a bomb went off in the middle of central Smolyan's Freedom Square. Two people were killed, and another six wounded, mostly from shrapnel.
As soldiers and medical staff rushed to be of aid, a series of three more bombs went off, at 8:02 am, at the three main entrances to the square. These blasts were more damaging, hitting those rushing to aid those hurt in the first blast. Another dozen died, with another sixteen being hurt.
After this blast, a squad of men began opening fire. While soldiers arriving at the square to secure it put them down fairly quickly, the terrorists did take six of them, along with four civilians, with them.
At 8:34, a pair of blasts went off near the government buildings just off the square. Only one person was injured, however.
And, at 8:52, one final explosion occurred in the area near the square, when a man blew himself up near the Macedonian Embassy. No casualties were reported.
Bombs, following a sweep later in the morning, were also discovered near embassies belonging to the Bosnians and Transylvanians as well. They failed to go off because of faulty wiring.
Two other attacks occurred in the same timeframe.
One, the smaller of the two by far, was directed against the Legislative Assembly, about four blocks east of the square, mere minutes after the first bomb went off. It was beaten off by the guards, who suffered three casualties while killing all but one of the eight men that attempted to break into the building. They appeared to have been attempting to kill any legislators they could find.
The other, more major, attack occurred just outside of the city at about 8:16, against the federal prison. This was far more successful, managing to break into the complex, and forcing their way into the cellblock.
At the prison, the Vidinites seemed, according to witnesses, to be looking for something. Apparently not finding what they had been looking for, they began shooting the prisoners in their cells, trying to find out where it was. They seem to have had no luck in this.
By 8:45, soldiers led by the Commander of the Army, General Yavor Mateev, had moved to positions around the prison. Not bothering to call out for surrender, they began to move inside within minutes.
The fighting that followed can only be described as horrific. Despite orders to secure prisoners from the enemy if possible, the vicious fighting meant that most of them had to be killed. Out of the two dozen Vidinites, only three survived the fighting - at a cost of nearly forty Rhodopian casualties. The ordinary prisoners, however, in the prison did not fair so well, and a fair number of them became casualties as well.
Interrogation of the four surviving attackers, along with identifying marks on the dead, quickly showed them to be both Vidinites, and Serb-armed. Their leader, killed at the prison, was identified as Lt. Emmanuel A. Vidinski, one of the two leaders of the Vidinite exiles in Serbia.
Intel "gathered" from the survivors showed that despite the destruction they had wrought, the bombings and other attacks in the city center had been merely an attempt at a distraction. The real target had been the prison.
Here, given its location as the main federal detention site, they had desired to liberate captured Vidinites, from both their prison sentences and death row. Using the success, Serbian arms, and the influence of the prisoners, they had planned on staging a revolt in and around Vidin, preventing any chance of Rhodope intervening on the side of Macedonia.
However, they failed in this - the Rhodopian government, knowing trouble was likely coming, had moved these prisoners to a more secure location in the Greek Federation weeks earlier, unknown to the Vidinites.
By evening, the Rhodope government had had enough. Warning the governments of their neighbors and allies, they declared war on Serbia, blaming it for the attacks. Within minutes, similar declarations were announced in Transylvania and Partium, given Transylvania's guarantee of Rhodope's security, and Partium's status as a protectorate of Transylvania.