Anarchists step up arson attacks

Stepping up a violent campaign for the release of seven suspected rioters arrested in Thessaloniki in June, anarchist groups launched a new string of arson bombings late on Thursday and early yesterday. The attacks coincided with the visit to Athens of top US federal police officials for talks on security at next summer’s Olympics. This was not lost on the anonymous caller who phoned Eleftherotypia daily yesterday to claim responsibility on behalf of anarchist groups for the Athens and Thessaloniki bombings. He said the attacks were in protest at the presence of Federal Bureau of Investigation head Robert Mueller, and to express solidarity with the Thessaloniki seven – who have been in custody pending trial since their arrest on June 21, after riots on the occasion of the EU Halkidiki summit. Four of the detainees, who include two Spaniards, a Briton and a Syrian, are on hunger strike. All claim to be innocent. Around 11 p.m. on Thursday, a group of hooded youths who drove up on motorbikes set off gas-canister bombs outside three adjacent bank branches – Emporiki, Bank of Cyprus and Eurobank – on Mitropoleos Street, off Syntagma Square. Nobody was hurt, but the banks, particularly Eurobank, suffered considerable damage. A little later in Thessaloniki, gas-canister bombs went off outside an Emporiki branch in Stavroupolis, and under a Public Works Ministry car in Kifissia, without hurting anyone. Yesterday’s blasts bring to over 25 the fire bomb attacks on banks and other buildings in Athens and Thessaloniki since the arrests. The campaign for the suspects’ release has included marches and media office invasions; yesterday some 70 people occupied the Town Hall of Iraklion in Crete. A protest is scheduled in London today outside the Greek tourism board and Olympic Airways offices.