Minister takes the rap

Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras yesterday took responsibility for failing to curb a recent spate of arson attacks by anarchist groups but suggested that opposition PASOK had allowed such violence to thrive. «I take responsibility as far as the policing goes,» Polydoras said. But he added: «The Exarchia no-go zone was not created in a year but over 30 years when some people were perpetrating politically motivated violence.» Polydoras also called for the «political and moral isolation» of those who practice violent political activism. «I seek a word of criticism from (political) parties, public opinion and the media and we can handle the policing afterward,» Polydoras said. The minister’s comments followed a series of attacks on police stations in Athens. Early yesterday, suspected anarchists attacked a police station in the eastern suburb of Zografou, destroying a parked car but causing no injuries. The attack came hours after firebombs were detonated outside police stations in central Athens and in Thessaloniki on Thursday night. Earlier on Thursday, suspected anarchists had launched a ferocious attack on a police station in Athens’s traditional anarchist stronghold of Exarchia, causing widespread damage but no injuries. The unrest over the last two days, believed to have been fueled by widespread prison riots, is the culmination of a month of violence for which there have been no arrests. Opposition parties yesterday condemned the government for failing to curb the unrest and called on Polydoras to resign. «Criminality is getting worse and the police are unable to perform their basic duty of defending public property,» said Petros Efthymiou of the main opposition party PASOK. «We have already expressed our conviction that (Polydoras) is unfit for this job,» he said. Over the past few months, clashes between anarchist groups and police have escalated, fueled by riots that broke out during student protests earlier this year. Authorities fear that anarchist gangs may be linked to a new domestic terror group thought to have carried out a missile attack on the US Embassy in January.

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