Early on Monday morning a group of attackers opened fire on the headquarters of Greece’s governing political party, New Democracy, with a Kalashnikov assault rifle. The Greek government has described the attack as a “worrying escalation” of political violence.
Police confirmed that nine bullet casing where found at the scene, and that at least one bullet went through the window of an office belonging to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. The attack took place at around 3am, when the building was empty, so nobody was hurt in the attack. According to party officials, the Prime Minister no longer uses the office at his party HQ anyway. So far there has been no claim of responsibility for the attack.
Anti-terrorism police have cordoned off the area around the office, on Syngrou Avenue close to the center of Athens. A burnt out car has also been recovered from nearby, which police are now examining as part of their investigation.
A government spokesperson named Simos Kedikoglou condemned the attack, noting that even a symbolic attack on the Prime Minister was a new low for Greece:
“This is a new, worrying escalation of the effort to create terror in our society,” he said.
New Democracy Spokesman Makis Voridis promised that the government could not be influenced by such attacks:
No act of terrorism is going to scare us,” he said. “Our efforts to restore law and order … will continue unobstructed.”
Previous Political Violence in Greece
The last week has seen a spate of attacks against political figures and journalist involving the use of homemade explosive devices. Far left groups have claimed responsibility for some of these attacks.
Three New Democracy offices where hit by petrol bombs in Friday, and a house belonging to Kedikoglou’s brother was attacked in the same way on Sunday. Nobody was hurt in these attacks. According to police the attack on Sunday was retaliation for a police raid on a large squat with links to anti-establishment groups last week, in which around 100 people were arrested.
Last Friday also saw a number of homemade bombs explode outside the homes of five journalists in Athens. An anarcho-socialist group calling themselves the ‘Lovers of Lawlessness’ claimed responsibility for the attacks in an online statement, which accused the journalists of writing government propaganda.
Left wing anger over the six year recession, which has decimated the Greek economy, is widespread across the country. The government has accused Syriza, the radical left wing political part which forms the main opposition party, of tacitly backing the attacks. Syriza spokesperson Pano Skourletis has denied this, saying in a statement issued on Monday that:
“This is certainly a dangerous escalation of terrorist attacks of blind violence, which are completely condemned by Syriza.”