A group of suspected anarchists attacked two banks in central Athens yesterday morning, causing widespread damage but no injuries, and distributed leaflets in support of convicted bank robber and anarchist Yiannis Dimitrakis. The gang of 15 attacked branches of Eurobank and National Bank shortly after 10.30 a.m., using iron bars, rocks and sticks. The assailants, who were wearing masks and helmets, did not try to rob either of the banks and did not appear to be carrying firearms. During the attacks, the anarchists scattered leaflets calling for the release of Dimitrakis, who earlier this week was sentenced to 25 years in jail for a bloody bank raid in central Athens in January 2006. Police, who had increased their presence in the city center as they had anticipated attacks expressing solidarity with Dimitrakis, were quick to react and arrested nine people. All nine were later released, however, for lack of evidence. Police insisted they had done as much as they could. «Police cannot be stationed outside every single bank branch,» a high-ranking officer said. Many of the 15 gang members removed and threw away their shirts after the attack to avert being recognized, he said. The assailants also removed their masks and dropped the sticks and other weapons they had been carrying, he added. Police said yesterday that they had anticipated more protests in support of Dimitrakis and feared that the bank attacks were the «calm before the storm.» They said that they were prepared for similar attacks in the capital over the next few days. The detention of Dimitrakis, 29, provoked a four-day prison revolt in April and several firebomb attacks, mostly on government offices, in recent weeks.