NEWS

Quarry explosives in the hands of terrorists

The southern Aegean island of Kythera was recently the focus of a manhunt for members of the Revolutionary Struggle urban guerrilla group, following a routine operation at a quarry on the island to seize unused explosives that were being stored illegally there. Now, about two months after the operation, counterterrorism officers say the incident was a significant step forward in the hunt for the latest generation of terrorists, whose standard methods include breaking into storage facilities, usually at small provincial quarries, to obtain explosives. «The November 17 group did this for several years. Revolutionary Struggle’s operations re-emerged after the theft of explosives from a mine in Fokida. The counterterrorism service’s interest in Kythera was for the same reason,» say officials. Apart from the illegal storage of explosives (a common practice among a large number of quarries in the countryside), informed sources say the authorities fear that a known anarchist who went to Kythera a few days before a rocket attack on the US Embassy in January may have had access to explosives stored at two quarries on the island. «We had a tip that the person in question went to Kythera with the express purpose of stealing the explosives. However, we cannot rule out the possibility that his trip might have been aimed at distracting the authorities,» a senior police official told Kathimerini. During a raid at the end of April, 583 kilos of AMFO (an explosive commonly known as C4) were found hidden in a container, along with 395.5 kilos of ammonal, 1,400 meters of fuse and four detonators. The owners of the quarry had bought the explosives legally but had not used them within the time limit set by law nor returned them to the supplier as they should have done (they cited bad weather conditions for the delay). These findings, along with the presence on the island of the person they described as «dangerous,» led officials at Attica police headquarters to upgrade the case. Some of the explosives seized were sent to the forensic laboratories to see if they were from the same batch used in attacks by Revolutionary Struggle. Well-informed sources also say that another person has been implicated in the case, a permanent resident of the island who could have acted as go-between.