Two members of Golden Dawn were murdered and a third was fighting for his life on Friday night after two men on a motorcycle rode past the neofascist party’s offices in Neo Iraklio, northern Athens, and opened fire on people that were standing outside the building.
According to Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis, the two men who were killed in the attack, which took place at around 7 p.m., were aged 20 and 23. One died at the scene, while the second passed away at the hospital. A third man was being operated on late Friday night after being hit by at least one bullet.
Police sources said that the gunmen used two 9 mm weapons, likely handguns, to shoot the men. At least 15 bullet casings were found outside the Golden Dawn offices, sources added. Authorities would not comment on speculation about whether the attack was linked to terrorism or some other kind of settling of scores. However, the anti-terrorism squad was immediately called to Neo Iraklio to help with the investigation.
A motorcycle matching the description of the one used in the attack was found three blocks away from the scene of the crime. It was taken away for tests.
Golden Dawn released two statements, blaming “terrorists,” the “anti-Greek government of [Antonis] Samaras” and Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias “personally” for the deaths of its members. The extremist group claimed that it had asked police to protect its party offices.
Golden Dawn’s police protection was removed in September, when its leader Nikos Michaloliakos and several MPs were charged with being members of a criminal organization following the murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas by a member of the far-right party.
Friday’s attack was condemned by all the parliamentary parties, with government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou pledging that the killers would be caught.
“We will not let the country be turned into a battleground for settling scores of any kind,” said Dendias, amid fears that the shooting could spark a wave of tit-for-tat attacks.
“Taking away a human life is the worst kind of crime,” said SYRIZA. “Today’s murders create a climate of instability and targets democracy. They have to be totally condemned and to be morally, ideologically and politically isolated.”