NEWS

Bomb targets minister

A bomb exploded yesterday near the home of Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis in central Athens, wrecking several cars and slightly injuring a policeman in the second attack on the minister in three years. Police said that the explosion was aimed at Voulgarakis, who was previously public order minister, as his home was less than 200 meters away from where the bomb went off. The explosion occurred at 7.42 a.m. on Lycabettus Hill and slightly injured a bomb squad officer and a sniffer dog while a routine explosives detection check was being carried out in the area. At the time, Voulgarakis was in a car that was making its way toward the point where the device exploded. «This was an attack against democracy. I have total confidence in the police, who have started their investigation, which I am sure will yield results,» the minister said. The bomb had been strapped to a bicycle seat and was probably set off by a remote detonation mechanism, police said. Authorities described the incident as being an indiscriminate attack that could have hurt anyone since there was no warning call. No one has claimed responsibility for the incident. Voulgarakis was also targeted in a 2003 firebomb attack by suspected anarchists, which destroyed three cars parked under his apartment block and damaged the building while he was an opposition deputy. «Throughout this time, I have received a barrage of threats which have come to a head now,» Voulgarakis said. The explosion was described as being strong by neighbors, damaging four cars and sending debris flying as far as 20 meters away. Sources said that police are concerned about the appearance of a «second generation» of terrorists after the capture and conviction of the leaders of the November 17 terrorist group before the 2004 Olympic Games. Voulgarakis was in charge of the Public Order Ministry when a phone-tapping scandal that targeted Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and other top officials was revealed. He has also been heavily criticized by opposition parties and human rights groups after Pakistani immigrants claimed they were abducted and interrogated by Greek and British secret agents.