Sat, Jul 04, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Top Greek judge’s car, tax office bombed

AFP , ATHENS

A police expert searches for evidence after a bomb explosion in Athens yesterday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

A Greek tax office was yesterday hit by a bomb blast in an attack blamed on far-left militants, one day after a top judge’s car was destroyed in an explosion, police said.

The anti-terrorist service launched a probe into the tax office bombing in the central district of Ambelokipi, believed to be the work of Revolutionary Struggle, a far-left group that fired a rocket at the US Embassy two years ago.

Half an hour before the early morning blast, which caused a fire that was put out before it could spread, anonymous warnings were telephoned to two Greek dailies, the police said.

Revolutionary Struggle, which features on the EU’s list of terrorist groups, more recently launched two strikes against US-based banking group Citibank and attacks on police that nearly killed a young officer.

The service car of the chairman of the Council of States, Greece’s top administrative court, was gutted on Thursday in the explosion of a gas canister bomb that was planted under the vehicle. Nobody was injured in the attack.

Judge Panagiotis Pikrammenos had just been appointed the previous day in a scheduled justice ministry handover.

The offices and homes of senior judges, which are not always well guarded, are popular targets in attacks designed to embarrass the authorities.

In April 2007, extremists snatched a submachine gun from a policeman guarding the home of then-Supreme Court president Romylos Kedikoglou and used the weapon to strafe a police station a few days later.

Extremist hits against police and business targets intensified after police fatally shot a teenager in December, unleashing a wave of youth protests and violence that emboldened radical groups, analysts said.

But despite a flurry of attacks since December, police have been unable to make arrests.

“There are a number of people under close surveillance, but so far no evidence has surfaced to arrest them,” a police source said.

In another attack, a gas canister bomb exploded outside the offices of the government-funded Hellenic Migration Policy Institute (IMEPO), causing minor material damage and no injuries.

No group claimed responsibility but police suspect far-left extremists were also involved to send a message to the Interior Ministry, which recently hardened its immigration policy despite criticism from rights groups.

“IMEPO is the organization that gives statistics to the Interior Ministry and advises on the formulation of immigration policy,” the police source said.

Claiming that a surge in immigration has pushed Greek resources to the limit, the ministry last month began repatriating migrants despite warnings that they could face persecution at home.

Greece deported 55 Pakistanis and 25 Afghans, citing agreements with their respective governments.

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