Kalashnikovs found in Zoniana

Police yesterday discovered a large cache of Kalashnikov assault rifles and pistols in caves and fields close to the mountain village of Zoniana where a search is still under way to identify the perpetrators of a bloody assault on a police convoy last week. Some weapons found in Zoniana, which police believe may have been used in last Monday’s attack, have been sent for analysis. Officers patrolling Zoniana yesterday toned down their presence after intense protests by locals over the weekend but checks continued on motorists entering and leaving the village. Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who briefed Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on the progress of the Zoniana operation, told reporters that the patrols would continue «as long as is necessary,» adding that officers were doing everything possible to respect citizens’ rights while proceeding with their investigation. Questioned about allegations of a certain politician having links to local criminals, claims leveled by a policeman, Pavlopoulos replied cautiously, saying only that «all claims will be investigated.» Police yesterday also continued their search of the broader Mylopotamos area, including the village of Livadia where one resident was arrested for weapons possession. A total of 19 people have been arrested on charges of drug dealing and weapons possession over the past week and seven have already been convicted. Another four Zoniana residents yesterday faced a Rethymnon magistrate to answer to drug- and weapons-related charges. Three policemen were injured in last Monday’s ambush outside Zoniana when some 20 gunmen fired on a convoy planning a drug search. The 28-year-old officer who sustained the most serious injuries, after being shot in the neck, is still in the hospital but his critical condition has stabilized.