NEWS

Cretan village targeted

Police yesterday continued their search for the gunmen who opened fire on a convoy of officers in a mountain village in Crete on Monday, injuring three officers, as the government vowed to curb the drug-running that has thrived in the area for years. Dozens of special forces staff joined the search around the village of Zoniana, site of Monday’s thwarted drug raid. Sources said that the police would make another effort to access the village but there had been no developments by late yesterday. The 28-year-old officer who was seriously injured during the attack was yesterday still in critical condition. Government officials pledged to crack down on local drug barons who have operated with relative impunity. «The state is determined to implement all measures that were not taken in the past,» Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said. «Four guys with Kalashnikovs and 20 peasants can’t make a mockery of the state,» he added. Meanwhile, policemen involved in Monday’s operation admitted that they had been inadequately prepared. Some said they had been ordered to carry out the raid at the last minute, following a briefing for a different mission. According to Yiannis Koundourakis, the head of the union of Rethymnon police officers, the village should have been surrounded by police before the raid, to provide cover for advancing officers. Two prosecutors probing the incident are to ascertain whether any blame should be attributed to police. Sources told Kathimerini the reluctance of local residents to offer any information was hindering the progress of the probe. Questioned by reporters about possible links between the police and organized crime rings on Crete, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos replied cautiously. «Isolated incidents… cannot allow us to categorize all police force employees as offenders,» he said. «The police force is not at war with anyone and does not have unsettled business with anyone,» he added.