City stores open for extended hours through New Year’s Eve Shops in Athens and Thessaloniki will be open tomorrow, the last Sunday before Christmas, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Shopping hours on weekdays will be from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., on Saturdays and Christmas Eve (December 24) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve (December 31). Shops will be closed on Christmas Day, December 25 and Boxing Day (December 26), as well as on Sunday, December 28, New Year’s Day and Friday, January 2. On Saturday, January 3, shopping hours return to the pre-Christmas schedule. BLAST Makeshift bomb rocks ND office in Thessaloniki; Athens also hit A branch of the New Democracy party in Toumba, Thessaloniki, was slightly damaged by a makeshift bomb that exploded in the entrance at dawn yesterday. In the western Athens suburb of Peristeri, a bomb made of gas canisters exploded shortly after 4 a.m. under a car owned by Michail Simatis, damaging the vehicle and another two parked nearby. Twenty minutes later, three cars caught fire in Menidi. Police said the first car had been set alight with petrol. TAXIS Christmas bonus from today Taxi passengers will be paying an extra 0.80 euros on all fares from today until January 7. Olympic security Athens 2004 president Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki met yesterday with Athens’s chief prosecutor, Dimitris Papangelopoulos, to discuss security issues for next year’s Olympic Games. The graduate A former student carrying a fake gun held teachers hostage for about 10 minutes at the Sitivanideios School in Kallithea yesterday before police arrested him. Stamatis Hadzilambis, 21, threatened the staff with the toy weapon, saying he was in love with one of the women teachers. Flu alert Greece’s health services, particularly children’s hospitals, are on the alert after the first confirmed case of Fujian flu was diagnosed in a 3-year-old boy. The child suffered only a mild case, according to Professor Andreas Constantopoulos, president of the Hellenic Pediatric Society, and is recovering. Foreign Policy Council After a meeting yesterday of the National Foreign Policy Council on the Cyprus issue and relations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, New Democracy party representative Petros Molyviatis said the council’s sessions were «useful and expedient although they often tended to take on an academic character.» Religious freedom In its 2003 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, the US State Department said that the «generally amicable relationship among religions in society contributed to religious freedom» in Greece. At the report’s release in Washington on Thursday, Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom John Hanford said: «With repeated desecrations of Jewish sites, as well as negative depictions in the media that we have found in Greece, the Greek foreign minister has sought others, including international allies, in confronting this problem in his own country,» he said. Road change New traffic arrangements have been in force since yesterday at the Stavros intersection in Aghia Paraskevi, northern Athens with Marathonos Avenue. As of early Tuesday morning, traffic approaching Kifissias Avenue at the Psychico intersection will use the new underground section of the road until March 31. Heroin A 50-year-old woman was arrested while trying to smuggle drugs into Korydallos prison in Piraeus yesterday. Filio Karayianni allegedly hid 70 grams of heroin in the false bottom of a plastic food carton, which was for her son, Admir Karayiannis, an inmate serving time for theft. Rehabilitation The drug rehabilitation group «18 Ano» (Over 18) is to open its second reception center, solely for women, in the city center. The non-residential center will be staffed by 10 experts.