Syntagma blast claimed

Revolutionary Struggle, the most active extremist group in Greece since the arrest of members of November 17 in 2002, yesterday claimed responsibility for the bomb that exploded outside the Economy and Finance Ministry in central Athens last week. The leftist group claimed in a letter to the Pontiki weekly newspaper that it had placed the bomb in Syntagma Square early last Monday morning. Last week’s blast injured three people and caused substantial damage to surrounding buildings. Sources told Kathimerini that, in its letter, the group criticizes the police for an apparent delay in responding to its telephone warnings before the explosion. Revolutionary Struggle says the police were responsible for almost getting people killed by the bomb, which was placed in one of the busiest spots in Athens. The group says it carried out the attack as a protest against the government’s economic policy and in support of action by workers. The blast came in the same week as a number of strikes against the government’s labor reforms and changes at public utilities. The police are examining the statement to ensure its authenticity but officers had suggested from the outset that the bomb had been the work of Revolutionary Struggle. The leftist organization first appeared in September 2003 when it placed two homemade bombs at the main Athens court complex, slightly injuring a policeman. The organization came to prominence when it claimed responsibility for the bombing of a police station in Kallithea 100 days before the start of last year’s Athens Olympics. It also placed a bomb outside the Labor Ministry in June which damaged the entrance to the building and shattered windows in surrounding buildings. Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis said yesterday authorities were only interested in examining the group’s latest letter for clues and refused to comment any further. However, sources told Kathimerini yesterday that the police are focusing their attention on a small group of people, possibly being led by two suspects who are known to authorities. Sources added that the investigation is progressing very slowly.