Greek ruling party's offices shot; 'extremist' link seen

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2013, 4:55am


Shots were fired early yesterday at the headquarters of the main Greek ruling party New Democracy in Athens, with one bullet striking the prime minister's office. Suspicion fell on extremist groups.

Two assailants drove up in front of the offices located on a busy Athens highway at around 2.30am, parked nearby and got out of their car, a police source said. After being spotted by security guards, the men opened fire, returned to the car and drove away. No one was injured.

One bullet was found in Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' third-floor office and another on the roof, while a window on the side of the building was pierced.

"A symbolic bullet for the prime minister - this is unheard of," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told state television NET. "We will not let them terrorise us. The government will do what is required to protect democracy."

Police forensic teams collected nine Kalashnikov assault-rifle casings from the scene and were investigating a stolen car believed to have been used in the attack that was later found burned in the neighbouring district of Palaio Faliro.

The police source noted that the method of the shooting was reminiscent of three groups, the most prominent being the far-left Revolutionary Struggle, best known for a rocket attack on the US embassy in 2007.

Early last Saturday, two district offices of the conservative New Democracy party were hit by an arson attack, while an office of the socialist party Pasok, a partner in the ruling coalition, had its front windows smashed.

This came after similar arson attacks against the homes of five Greek journalists early last Friday that caused material damage but no casualties. On Sunday, the home of government spokesman's brother was also targeted in an arson attack.

Some experts have linked the burst of violence to recent police operations against squatters in public buildings, which sparked tension with the radical leftist party Syriza.

In a statement released yesterday, however, Syriza condemned the attack on the New Democracy offices.