Two policemen stable after colleagues’ fatal shooting

Two policemen remained in an Athens hospital out of any danger on Wednesday after two of their colleagues were shot dead the previous evening while trying to apprehend suspected robbers.

Neither of the officers being treated has suffered life-threatening injuries, according to doctors. It was confirmed on Tuesday evening that Giorgos Skyloyiannis, 22, and Yiannis Evangelinelis, 23, had both died.

The government, opposition politicians and Greece?s President, Karolos Papoulias, have condemned the policemen?s murder.

?We are living in very rough times ? crime is become increasingly violent,? he said. ?It is a sad and worrying realization, which is even more dramatic in the wake of the murder of two people that were just starting out in life.?

It emerged that as many as eight policemen of the DIAS motorcycle-riding squad had been chasing the suspects after they had allegedly held up a street kiosk. The police were alerted after a witness reported that three men driving an SUV had used Kalashnikov assault rifles to threaten the kiosk owner. It is believed that the robbers made off with some 1,000 euros in cash.

Members of the DIAS squad spotted the car, which was identified by a police dispatch as a stolen vehicle, in the southwestern district of Rendi. They asked for backup and then gave chase but, according to witnesses, the men in the car got out of the vehicle and fired dozens of shots at the policemen on the motorcycles. It is though that there may have been four men in the car. One witness said that the shooting lasted for about 10 seconds.

Police unionists called for an investigation into whether there was a lack of back up for the officers. Questions are also being asked about the training and equipment that the DIAS officers receive.

The squad was formed last year and is made up of mostly young recruits who earn between 800 and 1,000 euros a month and has been credited with helping crack down on crime due to the rapid response that its officers provide.

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