NEWS

A storm of firebombs

In a barrage of makeshift bombs, unidentified assailants attacked six targets on Monday and early yesterday. In the most serious incident, the wife and four young children of an opposition member of Parliament had to be rescued from the roof of their burning apartment building. In the other attacks, the targets were a professor who is a friend of the prime minister, a prominent journalist, two branch offices of ruling PASOK and one New Democracy party office. Senior police sources said it appeared the attacks were aimed at expressing solidarity with defendants in the November 17 terrorism trial, as defense arguments began at the Korydallos Prison court yesterday. The attacks also coincide with a police decision to reassign some 1,000 police officers from protecting likely targets this month. Giorgos Voulgarakis, a senior member of ND, was in Strasbourg when the attack took place at 2.19 a.m. at his home (which was not guarded) on Doxapatri Street on Lycabettus Hill. The attackers used four small gas canisters and a jerry can of gasoline to set off an explosion in the building’s ground floor garage. Voulgarakis’s Mercedes, motorcycle and two other vehicles were seriously damaged. As thick smoke rose through the building, Mrs Katerina Voulgaraki ran to the roof with her four children – her youngest is 3 months old – and handed them over to policemen on a neighbor’s roof. «If we were late getting here, the first and second floors would have gone up in flames because the heat was very intense. Already plastic on the first floor had melted,» the head of the firemen at the scene told reporters. Voulgarakis, returning home, said: «I thank God my family is well. Things could have been worse.» He wondered how his home, which is near PM Costas Simitis’s apartment, could have been targeted. «Until I get a reply to this I would like us to be more reserved when making grand statements about the elimination of terrorism,» he said. «The fact that some paranoid maniacs were arrested and may be convicted does not mean the problem is over.» ND spokesman Theodoris Roussopoulos, who visited Voulgarakis’s home with party leader Costas Karamanlis, said, «These attacks are direct blows against democracy.» The attacks began shortly after 8 p.m. on Monday when two people on a motorcycle threw an explosive device (again made of gasoline and gas canisters) at the front door of TV journalist Anna Panayiotarea in Plaka. At 2.20 a.m., a similar device damaged ND offices in Moschato. A minute later, a PASOK office was damaged in Kato Patissia and at 2.30 a.m. the entrance to the Kolonaki block in which Prof. Giorgos Veltsos lives was attacked. A device at PASOK offices in Anthoupolis failed to explode.