An attack on a central Athens police precinct by firebomb-wielding anarchists on Monday evening has raised questions about the Hellenic Police’s operational capabilities and put pressure on the leftist-led government to curb a recent spike in lawlessness in the capital.
Monday evening’s attack was unusually aggressive, with around 50 suspected members of anti-establishment groups hurling an estimated 40 Molotov cocktails at a police van parked near the Omonia police precinct. Four officers sustained minor injuries in the attack which damaged two patrol vehicles and another two parked cars.
The government came under fire from opposition parties across the spectrum on Tuesday as, despite happening in the heart of the capital shortly before 9 p.m., it resulted in no arrests.
After pelting the parked police van with firebombs, the assailants smashed the vehicle’s back window and threw another firebomb inside, causing no injuries to the driver. Another police officer who had been on duty outside the precinct said he locked himself in his guard box and called for backup, Kathimerini understands.
Amid widespread criticism over the lack of any effective police response to the attack, the chief of the force, Aristeidis Andrikopoulos, ordered an administrative investigation.
Meanwhile, in a visit to Omonia police precinct on Tuesday, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis pledged to crack down on crime if the conservatives come to power and “establish an overall sense of security for Greek citizens.”
Shortly after Mitsotakis’s visit, Citizens’ Protection Minister Olga Gerovasili arrived at the precinct and was heckled by police unionists. She said the government was committed to “doing whatever possible” to tackle the problem of lawlessness.
Government sources on Tuesday conceded that the Omonia incident, and other similar ones, posed a problem. “It’s not an acceptable situation for a capital city,” one source said.