Video: Police foil bomb attack at Citibank in Athens

updated 2/18/2009 5:57:08 AM ET 2009-02-18T10:57:08

Greek police destroyed a powerful car bomb Wednesday left by an unknown group outside the offices of Citibank in a northern Athens suburb.

A guard at the offices called police after seeing the car being abandoned and the bomb squad destroyed the device shortly before 7 a.m. (midnight ET), police spokesman Panagiotis Stathis said.

The device consisted of five large propane gas canisters that had been emptied and then filled with explosives. It was attached to two mechanical clocks and detonators, Stathis said.

The attempted bombing cameafter gunmen fired shots and threw a suspected bomb outside the Alter private television station Tuesday night. The bomb failed to explode and nobody was injured in the shooting but the attack raised fears that Greek militant groups were expanding their targets.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either the shooting or Wednesday's attempted bombing.

Spate of attacks
Athens has seen a spate of attacks by domestic far left-wing extremists in the past two months. The majority have been aimed at police. The groups have issued claims of responsibility stating they were to avenge the death of a 15-year-old boy shot dead by a policeman in December. The boy's killing sparked the country's worst riots in decades.

Greece has faced targeted attacks by domestic terrorist groups for decades. But authorities had indicated they believed the problem had diminished after the arrest of several members of the country's deadliest group, November 17, following a botched bombing in 2002. That group killed 23 people in nearly three decades of targeted bombings and shootings.

Tuesday's attack outside Alter TV, in which four men opened fire with at least two guns in the station's car park, bore many similarities to a gun and grenade attack last month against a police station in the western Korydallos suburb which caused no injuries, Stathis said.

He said that casings found at the scene of Tuesday's shooting were from the same caliber of weapons used in Korydallos. Ballistics tests were being carried out to determine whether the same submachine gun and 9mm pistol were used in both.

A previously unknown group calling itself Sect of Revolutionaries claimed the police precinct attack. It issued a statement vowing to kill police and expand their targets to include journalists, politicians and others.

On Sunday, a different group claimed responsibility for 17 firebombings last week against the offices or homes of people including a top anti-terrorism prosecutor, a prominent politician and a judge. There were no injuries, but the daytime attacks were a departure from the usual practice of anarchist groups carrying out firebombings late at night to minimize the chance of casualties.

Last month, a far-left group called Revolutionary Struggle claimed responsibility for a Jan. 5 shooting that seriously wounded a 21-year-old riot policeman in central Athens, as well as for an earlier gun attack against a riot police bus that caused no injuries.

The group is best known for firing a rocket-propelled grenade into the U.S. Embassy in Athens in 2007.

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