NEWS

Four killed in street shootout in heart of Cyprus resort

TAGS: Cyprus, Crime

Four people were killed in a shootout outside a packed restaurant in the Cypriot resort of Ayia Napa that had the hallmarks of a gangland vendetta, police said on Friday.

The deaths in the heart of the resort's nightclub district on Thursday evening raised fears of a blow to tourist confidence just as the holiday island was hoping for a record summer season.

Masked gunmen opened fire on a well-known local businessman, his dining partners and bodyguards as they were leaving the restaurant at around 10:30 pm.

An armed off-duty policeman who was with the businessman returned fire, killing one of the gunmen, identified by police as a 41-year-old Albanian.

Businessman Phanos Kalopsidiotis, 51, was killed. So too was a second off-duty policeman in his entourage, Elias Hadjiefthymiou, 46, and his wife Skevi, 39. The couple were gunned down in front of their teenage children.

The policeman who returned fire was in critical condition in hospital on Friday with wounds to the head, arm, leg and chest.

One of the businessman's bodyguards was also wounded.

The attack took place just 600 metres from the site of another deadly shooting four years ago in which five people died in a contract killing.

Kalopsidiotis was believed to have been the target of that hit too.

Two years later, his father, Yiannos, was murdered outside his home not far from Ayia Napa.

The resort's nightclubs have long been popular with British and Russian tourists.

Local businesses had been hoping for a bumper year as jihadist bombings have hit bookings to competitor destinations like Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey.

Cyprus is no stranger to gangland hits. They have also targeted suspected underworld figures in second city Limassol and the capital Nicosia, although few have been in such public places.

[AFP]

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