B | 10.11.2003 12:43 | Thessaloniki EU
Fri 7 November, 2003 12:06
By Karolos Grohmann
ATHENS (Reuters) - Anarchists have attacked three Athens banks with home made bombs in protest against a visit to the Greek capital by FBI chief Robert Mueller to inspect security for next year's Olympic Games, police say.
A police spokesman said witnesses saw 10 hooded people on motorcycles carefully place explosive devices made of small gas canisters and several petrol bombs at the entrances of the three banks before speeding off shortly before midnight on Thursday.
"The explosions caused damage to the entrances of the three banks -- central city branches of Cyprus Bank, Commercial Bank and Eurobank -- but there were no injuries," the spokesman said on Friday.
Athens attacks against anarchists' detention, not FBI chief: police
07 November 2003
Attacks on three commercial banks in Athens were in protest at the detention of seven alleged anarchist rioters rather than the visit of FBI chief Robert Mueller to Greece, a senior police source said Friday.
"We believe the attacks came from the anarchist scene and were mostly a protest against the detention of the Salonika seven," the source told AFP in reference to seven protestors detained in the northern Greek city of Salonika on criminal charges for rioting during last June's European Union summit.
Three gas-cannister bombs went off late Thursday, causing minor material damage to one Cypriot and two Greek-owned banks.
The attacks came just hours after Mueller, director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, arrived in Athens to discuss security for the 2004 Olympics.
On Friday, an unknown man telephoned Greek daily Eleftherotypia to claim responsibility for the attacks, saying they were a protest against Mueller's arrival as well as against the imprisonment of the seven in northern Greece.
"We believe the FBI chief was included in the statement in a by-the-way fashion. The main cause for the attacks is most likely Salonika," the source said.
Five of the seven detained in Salonika -- two Spaniards, one Briton, one Syrian and one Greek -- are now into their second month of hunger strike and have demanded they be released on bail until their case is heard.
The protestors' detention has sparked a string of small demonstrations by anarchist and leftist groups throughout the country.
Two small exploding devices went off against a commercial bank and a government car in Salonika early Friday, apparently also to protest the detention of the seven, police sources said.
Minor material damages were reported.
Greece claims to have dismantled its extremist groups, including the murderous November 17 gang, last year.
But in recent months it has seen a resurgence of low-level violence with a handful of arson attacks against US companies. One policeman was injured in a bomb attack on Athens' main court.