Three officers shot on Crete

Three policemen, one of whom was shot in the head, were rushed to hospital last night after being fired at as they approached a cannabis plantation near Iraklion on Crete. Details of the incident, which occurred at about 8.30 p.m. were still sketchy last night but it appears that the three policemen had been lying in wait for those responsible for cultivating the plantation near the village of Malades. It appears that the suspects opened fire on the policemen with high-powered rifles, possibly AK-47s. One of the officers appears to have head injuries while his colleagues were shot in the legs and back. The officers were taken to hospital in Iraklion but the full extent of their injuries was not known last night. The incident revived memories of an ambush on police in the mountain village of Zoniana, in Rethymnon prefecture, last year. Assailants were lying in wait for the police when they attempted to raid the village, a known hive of illegal activity, last November. Stathis Laza-ridis, a 29-year-old policeman, was shot in the head during the botched raid. He was left partly paralyzed by the shooting. The police presence on the island was beefed up in the wake of the incident as authorities tried to smash the criminal gang operating in Zoniana. Officers arrested 17 suspects as a result of their crackdown on criminal activity, which included drug running, money laundering and extortion of local businessmen.