Gunman from deadly shootout identified as escaped convict

Police on Sunday confirmed that one of a group of men involved in a shootout with officers following an armed raid on a taverna near Thebes and during which a 25-year-old woman was killed in the crossfire, is Marko Kola, an Albanian convict who escaped together with another 10 inmates from a prison in Trikala, central Greece, more than a week ago.

Kola’s fingerprints were found in a sports utility vehicle used by the gunmen to elude capture following the taverna heist. The gunmen shot at police who were in pursuit of their vehicle near the Corinth Canal, killing a 25-year-old motorist who was driving by at the time. The bullet that killed the young woman was identified as being from a Kalashnikov assault rifle that was used by the robbers when they held up the taverna on the Athens-Thebes national highway.

The assailants were able to elude police before abandoning the SUV, which was searched by crime scene investigators who discovered Kola’s fingerprints.

Kolas was wanted by authorities after escaping from Trikala Prison on March 22 along with another 10 inmates following an unprecedented attack against guards involving grenades and automatic weapons.

All 11 fugitives are Albanian nationals convicted of crimes including armed robbery. Three have already been caught.

Kola had been involved in another shootout with police in which a civilian was killed in 2010, when he and an accomplice opened fire against officers who spotted them a day after they stripped two patrolmen of their weapons. The incident took place in the Athenian suburb of Vyronas, when Kola and his accomplice shot at the officers who were pursuit of their car and launched five hand grenades against them. A 25-year-old Albanian worker was caught in the crossfire and killed.

A nationwide manhunt was under way on Sunday for Kola and his accomplices.

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