NEWS

Embassy attack puts Greek police on high alert ahead of Obama visit

TAGS: Diplomacy, Terrorism

The hand grenade attack against the French Embassy early on Thursday morning in Athens has placed Greek police under increasing pressure, just a few days before the visit of outgoing US President Barack Obama.

Foreign diplomatic missions have already filed requests for extra security, while French officials have asked the Interior Ministry to provide security to French business interests and organizations.

One policeman, standing guard outside the French Embassy opposite the Greek Parliament, was injured when unknown assailants threw a hand grenade.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack but one theory under consideration is that it was linked to Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, a Lebanese militant who is serving a 32-year jail sentence in France for the murder of two diplomats in the 1980s.

Texts in support of his release were posted online over the last two weeks by members of the Revolutionary Struggle and Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire urban terror groups.

The government condemned the attack as an act of terrorism and vowed to hunt down the culprits, while Alternate Minister for Citizens’ Protection Nikos Toskas chaired an emergency meeting with senior police officials in which they decided to make changes to plans to guard potential targets in the city center.

Meanwhile, representatives of American security companies met with senior officials at the Headquarters of the Greek Police. According to estimates, some 300 American agents will participate in the security operation during Obama’s visit on November 15-16.

Amid difficult negotiations with creditors to complete the second review of Greece’s third bailout, the leftist-led coalition is eagerly anticipating Obama’s visit, as it is banking on crucial US support for Greek debt relief, which Washington has repeatedly said is necessary.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has stated that he wants a commitment from the country’s eurozone partners for debt relief measures at the Eurogroup on December 5, and officials are expecting Obama to make the case in Berlin – the next stop of his tour after Athens.

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