PASOK MP Petros Efthymiou spent last night in the hospital after an unidentified assailant struck him over the head with a metal bar as the deputy was about to enter his office in the central Athens district of Exarchia, which is popular with self-styled anarchists. The attack has prompted an investigation by the police as, like most deputies, Efthymiou had been assigned two guards from the force who appear to have been absent at the time of the incident. «Today I was the victim of a cowardly and murderous attack,» said Efthymiou as he briefly stepped out of Evangelismos Hospital to speak to reporters. The former PASOK spokesman and education minister claimed that his attacker was lying in wait and that he only escaped more serious injuries because a lawyer happened to be leaving at the time and fought off the assailant. Efthymiou received stitches for a head wound but doctors said that he would have to stay in the hospital overnight for precautionary reasons. The PASOK deputy accused the ruling conservatives of allowing a «state within state» to operate outside the law. «I ask the government to realize that this game of impunity cannot exist and this state within a state cannot be used politically in one way or another,» he said. «The government bears a heavy responsibility for this situation and I call upon it to assume its duties.» Anarchists often target political parties and the police in Exarchia. In 2006, the then head of the GSEE umbrella labor union, Christos Polyzogopoulos, was seriously injured in an attack in the area.