Terrorist group targeting police, embassies under the microscope

Terrorist group targeting police, embassies under the microscope

Ballistics tests have indicated that a guerrilla group called Organization for Revolutionary Self-Defense is behind an armed attack against riot police in the Athens neighborhood of Exarchia on Monday night.

The results of tests on four assault rifle shell casings retrieved from the scene where a gunman opened fire at police officers pointed to the gun used in similar attacks in January this year and April 2014 at the same location, near the offices of socialist PASOK. They also match shells found after the Mexican Embassy in central Athens came under fire in the summer of 2016.

Revolutionary Self-Defense has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Mexican Embassy and for an attack on PASOK’s offices in 2014. The group has also claimed a hand grenade attack on the French Embassy in November 2016 in which a guard was injured.

There were no injuries reported in Monday evening’s assault, as the two officers spotted their assailant when he was approaching and dodged the bullets that were fired from a distance of 30-40 meters.

The incident is being treated as an attack against the police.

“The officers were the target, not PASOK’s offices. The shots were fired at head height,” the vice president of the Union of Athens Police Employees, Dimosthenis Pakos, told Kathimerini.

Police investigators believe that Organization for Revolutionary Self-Defense is quite a small group – possibly with as few as two or three members – with a small arsenal of weapons.However, it remains unclear whether it has links to larger groups with access to bigger caches of guns and explosives.

Based in Exarchia, the group appears to plan its hits largely in reaction to significant initiatives by the Greek Police. For instance, the gun attack in January came a few days after the arrest of Panagiota Roupa, a leading member of Revolutionary Struggle, and Monday’s hit a week after the arrest of a suspected member of Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire who is believed to have mailed letter bombs to former prime minister Lucas Papademos and top European officials earlier this year.

In his first public appearance since he was injured by the letter bomb in May, Papademos said it was “positive that someone responsible for violence and terrorism has been arrested.” 

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