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Cablegate: Greek Domestic Terrorists Strike Police Station

VZCZCXRO0806
OO RUEHAG RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHTH #1591/01 3031535
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O R 301535Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0927
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 001591

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
AMEMBASSY ANKARA PASS TO AMCONSUL ADANA
AMEMBASSY ASTANA PASS TO USOFFICE ALMATY
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL LEIPZIG
AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PASS TO AMEMBASSY PODGORICA
AMEMBASSY HELSINKI PASS TO AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG
AMEMBASSY ATHENS PASS TO AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/10/30
TAGS: PTER PGOV ASEC ABLD GR
SUBJECT: GREEK DOMESTIC TERRORISTS STRIKE POLICE STATION

ATHENS 00001591 001.2 OF 002


CLASSIFIED BY: Daniel V. Speckhard, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

Summary

-------

1. (SBU) A group of six unidentified individuals carried out an
attack with automatic weapons on the police station in the Athens
suburb of Agia Paraskevi, eight kilometers north of the Embassy, on
the evening of October 27, wounding six police officers, one of
them seriously. In addition to firing a reported 100 rounds in the
fifteen-second attack, the assailants also apparently threw a hand
grenade. The attack is the latest example in the upsurge of
domestic terrorist activity since the December 2008 riots, and it
underscores the groups' increasing willingness to launch large
attacks with the potential for collateral damage. End Summary.

A New Attack

----------

2. (C) According to police sources, the attack was carried out by
four individuals on two motorcycles, who are believed to have
followed a four-officer foot patrol to the station before the
attack, which occurred at 2145 local time, close to the 2200 shift
change when more police officers would be outside the station. A
third motorcycle with two riders stood at the top of the street,
blocking the road. The attackers dismounted the motorcycles and
fired a reported 100 rounds, believed to be from AK-47s. Witnesses
also heard the sound of an explosion, which is believed to have
come from a hand grenade. The attackers then walked back to the
motorcycles and sped away. They switched to different motorcycles,
all of which were stolen, during their getaway. Police later
located the abandoned motorcycles (two of which were left with
motors and lights on outside a metro station) but the assailants
escaped.

3. (SBU) Six police officers were wounded in the attack; the most
seriously injured is still unconscious and her recovery is unsure.
Following the attack, a seventh person - a civilian bystander - was
taken to a nearby hospital in a state of shock. On October 28, new
Minister of Citizens' Protection Mihalis Chrysochoidis called the
attack a "blind blow aimed at the whole of Greek society" and
declared "these cowardly assassins will be arrested and brought to
justice." Some commentators have suggested the attack could have
been prompted by the Ministry of Citizens' Protection's
announcement October 26 of a 600,000-euro reward for information
leading to the arrest of three accused bank robbers, whose past
crimes (the most recent in 2006) are believed to be tied to
domestic terrorist organizations. The investigation has revealed,
however, that some of the motorcycles were stolen prior to the
reward announcement, suggesting that plans for this attack were
already in the works. The newspaper Eleftherotypia reported
October 30 that it had received a "very strange" proclamation of
responsibility from a previously unknown group called Bands of
Proletarian People's Self-Defense. It is not yet clear if this
claim of responsibility is credible.

Comment

------

4. (C) This is the latest - and one of the most serious - attacks
on police since the December 6, 2008, killing of a teenager
provoked major riots and turned the Greek police into the most
popular target for domestic terrorist organizations, including
Revolutionary Struggle and Sect of Revolutionaries. (Other leading
targets are banks and other symbols of capitalism.) Several
officers have been wounded, and one was killed in an
execution-style attack in June. Particularly troubling is the
increasing willingness of Greek terrorist groups to engage
indiscriminate attacks that run the risk of civilian casualties.
The attack is also a major test for Chrysochoidis and the rest of
the new Greek government, who have been at pains to demonstrate
they will be tough on violent groups despite the ruling PASOK
party's leftist orientation. With a number of significant dates on
the calendar before the end of the year - the traditional November
17 protest, the December 6, 2008 anniversary of the killing of the
teenager, and the scheduled December 15, 2009 start date of the
trial of the officer who shot the teenager - most observers expect
the confrontation between the state and domestic terrorists to get
worse before it gets better. Another incident took place in the
early hours earlier today, October 30, 2009, when a small bomb went
off at the entrance to the apartment building of opposition MP
Marieta Yannakou, who sponsored controversial education reform
legislation several years ago. As of September 2009, over 330
security incidents (defined to include incendiary and explosive
attacks, as well as those involving small arms, grenades, and other
infantry-style weaponry) have been noted by the Embassy, a record
number for any year, and one we have reached with three more active
months to go in the calendar year.
Speckhard

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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