Anti-terror Police probe deadly bombing in Athens – How the bomb reached the Ministry


Greek anti-terror police probe deadly bombing

By Αssociated Press  A letter bomb that killed a close aide to Greece’s law enforcement minister had originally been sent to the minister’s political office before being taken to the heavily guarded ministry building where it exploded, police said Friday. 

Authorities had been probing how the bomb got into the public order ministry building, which is equipped with explosives detectors to check parcels. 

Thursday night’s brazen bombing was the latest step in an escalating campaign of attacks in Greece, where radical domestic groups often carry out bombings and shootings but rarely cause injuries. The bomb detonated on the seventh floor of the building just outside central Athens, killing 50-year-old police officer Giorgos Vassilakis, a close aide to minister Michalis Chryssohoidis. Chryssohoidis was unhurt.  The device had been hidden in an envelope originally sent by mail last Friday to Chryssohoidis’ political office, police said. The letter bomb arrived Monday at the office, where it remained until being taken along with the minister’s regular mail to the ministry on Thursday. The device exploded when Vassilakis, a father of two, opened the envelope.

 The name of the sender was listed as Christos Karavellas — a former executive of Siemens AG’s Greek branch who is a suspect in a corruption case against the company and who was frequently in newspaper headlines at the height of the corruption scandal last year. 

 Police are examining the remains of the bomb, and believe gunpowder was used in the device. 

 The blast caused extensive damage to the ministry’s seventh floor, just 25 meters (yards) from the office of Chryssohoidis, who was inside at the time. 

 There was no claim of responsibility by Friday, but suspicion fell on militant groups opposed to government economic and social policies. Greece has passed a set of stringent austerity measures and narrowly avoided defaulting on its debt by receiving the first installment of euro110 billion ($134.9 billion) in rescue loans from other EU countries and the International Monetary Fund. 

 The tactic used was a clear departure from the usual method of planting bombs late at night when they are less likely to cause injuries, making it difficult for experts to narrow down which group could be responsible. 

 “It’s unclear which organization is responsible. This is the first time something like this has happened,” a public order ministry official said, speaking on condition his name not be used in order to discuss details of the investigation. 

 Although there were many people on the seventh floor at the time of the explosion, Vassilakis had been in his office alone when he opened the package. The door was closed and absorbed much of the blast, preventing others from being wounded, the ministry official said. 

 Chryssohoidis has waged a campaign for years to eradicate domestic terrorism in Greece, and is considered instrumental in dismantling the country’s most notorious group, November 17, in 2002 during his previous tenure as public order minister. 

 Bombings and shootings by radical domestic groups in Greece increased significantly after the fatal police shooting of an Athens teenager in December 2008, which sparked the country’s worst riots in decades. Over the past nine months, police have arrested more than a dozen people accused of belonging to two small militant groups that claimed responsibility for a string of bombings, including a rocket attack against the U.S. Embassy in 2007. 

 In March, a 15-year-old Afghan boy was killed when he opened a bag containing a bomb that had been planted outside a management institute in an Athens neighborhood. The boy’s 10-year-old sister suffered serious facial injuries that damaged her sight. 

 The boy was the first person to be killed in a bomb attack in Athens since 1999, when a blast outside a hotel killed a conference worker. Another two people were killed in separate shootings claimed by terrorist groups since 2000.

 http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hCXS-Y4Ld3o_vfpNLO8MS4bSVeswD9GIFK804

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