Police believe that the explosion on Thursday of a makeshift bomb outside a church in the central Kolonaki district of Athens, which injured a policeman and a church employee, was the work of “apprentice” terrorists.
Counterterrorism officials investigating the blast, which occurred shortly after 7 a.m. on Skoufa Street, reportedly believe that the culprits do not belong to any of the country’s active domestic terror groups. Instead, they have described them as young anarchists aiming to upgrade their operations from Molotov cocktails to making and using makeshift explosive devices.
However, despite the perpetrators’ perceived inexperience, police have expressed serious concern, as there was no telephone warning, while the blast, albeit small, occurred on a busy Athens street, shortly before morning mass was due to begin.
Moreover, it was the third terror-related incident after bomb disposal experts defused an explosive device placed outside the Athens home of prosecutor Isidoros Doyiakos and the powerful December 17 bomb attack at Skai TV’s headquarters in southern Athens.
Thursday’s explosion was caused by a device placed inside a shoebox. It was discovered by the church caretaker, who notified police. The device exploded while the police officer who first arrived at the scene was examining the package.
He suffered face and hand injuries and was transferred to a military hospital. Media reports indicated that his life is not in danger. The church employee also suffered minor injuries and was transferred to nearby Evangelismos Hospital.
The shoebox contained wires, a clock and two small plastic water bottles with a yellow liquid, probably petrol, inside them.
The latest attack prompted statements of condemnation from political parties across the board. New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis called for zero tolerance to violence.
“A bomb outside a church in a densely populated commercial street in Athens is a cold attack against citizens,” he wrote in a Twitter post. “Unfortunately, the more the government fails to acknowledge the need for zero tolerance toward violence, the more unprecedented the feelings of insecurity grow,” Mitsotakis added.
The leader of the centrist Movement for Change (KINAL), Fofi Genimata, said the incident indicated the country is facing a security problem. “The government must assume its responsibilities,” she said in a Twitter post.