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Greek police fear an escalation of violence in Athens

25 November 2015 / 17:11:41  GRReporter
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Greek security forces are seriously concerned over the explosion at the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises in the very centre of Athens, writes the newspaper Ethnos. Although they are in a state of high alert after the terrorist attacks in Paris, the attackers still managed to place a bomb in one of the best-guarded areas in Athens.

The data from the investigation that began immediately after the explosion has proved that there have been no 24-hour police protections at the buildings of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises, the Embassy of Cyprus and the offices of the European Parliament in Athens that are located nearby. And this despite the fact that the three buildings had been identified as potential targets of terrorist attacks in the past.

The police have responded to the criticism, arguing that there are police forces throughout the day in Syntagma Square and that they patrol on a regular basis around the buildings that are identified as "targets". At the same time, however, they add that due to the lack of staff, they are unable to provide permanent guards outside them. The investigation has even made clear that recently the Embassy of Cyprus has requested the provision of a 24-hour police guarding of the building, which is located opposite the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises.

Yesterday's blast took place a week after an order was issued on guarding embassies and buildings "at risk" following the terrorist attacks in Paris. At the same time, the Greek police are in a state of full readiness for 20 days. This period started on 17 November in connection with the commemoration of the student rebellion at the Athens Polytechnic School. US Minister of Foreign Affairs John Kerry will visit Athens in the middle of it, on 4 December, and it will end on 6 December, when Alexis Grigoropoulos’ murder in 2008 will be commemorated. According to sources, there has been a commotion in the anarchist circles, especially after Grigoropoulos’ friend Nikos Romanos’ "manifesto" from prison. In it he had made threats of imminent attacks on shops, blasts at the houses of politicians and arsons of banks and police stations.

Ethnos comments that despite this the blast surprised the police which thought that, having recently arrested the members of armed groups, they had left them without leading "cadres" with operational capabilities. This was evident from the statements of Minister of Citizen Protection Nikos Toskas, who said in an interview for a Sunday edition, "At present, the phenomenon of terrorism is not in full swing as it was in the past." He also said that for this reason the Ministry would focus on the economic police and would strengthen it with the technological equipment of the office for combating terrorism.

Police officers define the bombing of the offices of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises as an "assault with a high degree of risk", which did not intend to cause casualties but to send a "message." They believe that the perpetrators might be members of a known terrorist organizatio,n who had reunited, or of a newly formed group. In anticipation of the manifesto to assume responsibility for the attack, they note that if it is signed by an already known organization, there are three possible scenarios.

According to the first one, the attack may have been a response to Nikos Romanos’ call for a "Black December". On 23 December 2010, small gas cylinders exploded at the same location. The group "Zero Tolerance" assumed responsibility for the blast, with which Romanos was supposed to have been connected. The police are not excluding the possibility of the group having formed again and having acquired operational capability.

Under the second scenario, suspicions fall on the "Popular Fighters Group" which is considered a "subsidiary" of "Revolutionary Struggle". Having arrested Nikos Maziotis’ close collaborator Grigoris Petrakakos, the office for combating terrorism thought that they had inflicted a severe blow on the two groups. Yesterday’s daring attack on the offices of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises resembled Nikos Maziotis’ car that was loaded with explosives in the centre of Athens in April 2014, as stated by police officials.

The third and most unconvincing scenario according to them is that the attack was carried out by the group "Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei". However, if a pot is found on the site of the blast, the course of the investigation will change, as it is something that the authorities cannot exclude.

Under the most likely scenario, a group with a new name will assume responsibility for the blast, the goal being to mislead the authorities, indicates the newspaper Ethnos.

Tags: Crime newsHellenic Federation of EnterprisesGreek policeNikos RomanosBlack December
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