After a relative lull in recent months, urban terrorism returned to the fore on Monday morning with a bomb attack at the building housing the headquarters of Skai TV and Kathimerini newspaper in southern Athens.
Greek Police (ELAS) investigating the early morning bomb blast suspect that a far-left organization calling itself Group of Popular Fighters may be behind the attack and are examining footage from the building’s surveillance cameras, as well as a torched car that may have been used by the bombers to flee the scene before the explosion which occurred at 2.37 a.m.
The powerful blast caused extensive damage to the building’s glass front but no injuries – as the facility had been evacuated following warning calls to two other media outlets shortly before 2 a.m.
Forensic experts said that a backpack containing around 10 kilograms of explosives was attached to a metal crash barrier on the street in front of the building.
Kathimerini understands that the burnt car, an Opel Astra, was found at around 2 a.m. in the Athens neighborhood of Ano Petralona
According to information Kathimerini has received, security cameras recorded vehicles passing the building, but not the perpetrators placing the bomb outside as that part of the road is a blind spot.
The footage has not officially been received by police but it has been handed over to officials at the Citizens’ Protection Ministry, which the paper has criticized for not providing police protection to the building.
Popular Fighters is believed to have been behind similar bomb attacks against the downtown Athens headquarters of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) in November 2015, a Eurobank branch near Omonia in April 2017 and the Athens Court of Appeals in December of that year.
It also claimed responsibility for an armed attack on the Israeli Embassy in December 2014.
The attack was condemned at home and abroad, with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras calling it the work of “cowardly and dark forces against democracy itself.”
“They will not achieve their goal though, neither to terrorize nor to disorientate,” he added, expressing his “genuine solidarity” with journalists and television station employees.
For his part, during a visit to Skai’s headquarters, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned of the dangers that stem from a tolerance of violence.
“When we differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ violence, these are the results,” he told Skai during his visit to the building.
“The distance separating a Molotov from a Kalashnikov, a sledgehammer from a powerful bomb, is not that great,” he insisted, adding that “this toxic climate, which has been shaped with the government’s culpability, has side effects.”
The leader of Independent Greeks, Panos Kammenos, also condemned the attack, even though he noted that Skai had declared war on his party.
“We support the right of free speech even to those who violate our own right,” he said on his official Twitter account.
Underscoring that press freedom is one of the pillars of European society, European Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said in a tweet that “every attack on [the press] is an attack against our way of life, our principles and our values – an attack on all Europeans.”