Gunmen attack police station near Athens

Gunmen attack police station near Athens

ATHENS, Greece: Gunmen attacked a police station in Greece's capital early Tuesday, firing weapons and throwing a hand grenade in an attack that authorities suspect is the work of a domestic terrorist group. No injuries were reported.

Police were investigating the pre-dawn shooting in the Korydallos district of western Athens, in which three attackers wearing hoods and helmets opened fire on the station, police spokesman Panagiotis Stathis said. They also threw a hand grenade that did not explode.

Last month, domestic terrorist group Revolutionary Struggle shot and seriously wounded a riot policeman in central Athens in an attack against a police unit guarding the Culture Ministry.

The group is possibly best known for firing a rocket-propelled grenade into the U.S. Embassy in Athens in 2007. Washington offered a $1 million reward for information leading to the capture of Revolutionary Struggle members.

Stathis said a local newspaper had received a claim of responsibility after Tuesday's attack and police were investigating. He did not say which group the caller claimed to represent, but Greek media said the phone call was made in the name of Revolutionary Struggle an hour after the attack.

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The group issued a statement after the Jan. 4 wounding of the police officer, vowing to continue attacks. It said its actions were a response to the fatal police shooting of a 15-year-old boy in Athens on Dec. 6 that sparked the worst riots Greece had seen in decades. It also claimed responsibility for shooting at a riot police bus Dec. 23, in which nobody was injured, and for an Oct. 24 attempted bombing of the Greek offices of oil giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC in Athens.

In Tuesday's attack, Stathis said the gunmen aimed at the sentry's guard post outside the police station. At least 10 shots were fired, but the officer on duty fell to the floor as soon as he saw flashes from the attackers' weapons and was not wounded, Stathis said.

He said authorities were conducting ballistics tests on the 9mm bullet casings found at the scene to determine whether they were a match for any of the automatic rifles that Revolutionary Struggle is known to use.

Stavros Mavroidakos, deputy head of a police officers' association, said the attack was troubling.

"Clearly, there is an effort to take the life of policemen — I don't think anyone can doubt that," he said.

Greece has been troubled by terrorist violence in recent decades, but cracked down on violent groups before the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

The country's deadliest terrorist group, November 17, killed 23 people in shootings and bombings between 1975 and 2002 before a botched bombing led police to capture key group members.

In its annual report on terrorism last year, the U.S. State Department said it believed Revolutionary Struggle and November 17 could be linked.

Revolutionary Struggle first appeared in 2003 and has carried out at least six bombings, targeting police stations, government ministries, a bank and a courthouse.

Source: Herald Tribune