Terrorists revisit Athens, attacking police convoy

In the first major terrorist strike since an embarrassing bomb attack on an Athens police precinct in May, a roadside device exploded on one of the capital’s main roads yesterday morning as a police convoy was driving by. None of the 36 officers was injured, while the vehicles – two buses, a van, and two motorcycles – escaped damage. Police believe the blast was meant to cause loss of life and major injuries, and see the attack as an act of retaliation for the convictions, earlier this month and late last year, of 19 members of the Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA) and November 17 extreme left-wing terrorist groups. «They wanted revenge,» a senior police source told Kathimerini. No group had claimed responsibility for the explosion by late yesterday, although police link the attack with the May strike – which coincided with the start of the 100-day countdown for the Olympics – and the September 2003 blasts outside the main Athens court complex. Nobody was hurt in these two attacks, for which the group Revolutionary Struggle claimed responsibility. Yesterday’s bomb went off on the Petrou Ralli Avenue overpass above Constantinoupoleos St in Rouf, western central Athens, at 7.04 a.m. The device, controlled by wires linked with a battery, was set off from a small copse some 30 meters away. It was attached to the railings on the overpass, and went off as the convoy – headed for Korydallos Prison where the N17 and ELA terrorists are held – was passing by. Three people are believed to have carried out the attack. Witnesses said they saw two youths fleeing the scene on a motorbike. The remains of the bomb, which contained a kilo of explosives, are being examined in police laboratories. Even before the blast, police were focusing on catching N17 members who evaded the 2002 swoop that secured 15 convictions.