NEWS

Shots at police heighten fears

A bus carrying police officers was fired at yesterday morning in the eastern Athens district of Goudi, prompting concern that the shooting of a teenager by a special guard earlier this month will be used by extremist groups as justification for an all-out assault on law enforcement. Senior police officers were trying last night to establish whether the attack – which saw a gunman fire from the grounds of the Athens University residence halls – was the action of an anarchist or anti-establishment group or whether the gun was fired by the member of an existing domestic terrorist organization. The evidence points to a well-planned operation. The bus left riot police headquarters in Goudi carrying 20 officers at about 5.50 a.m. After a loud bang was heard, the bus stopped and the driver saw that two of the tires had blown out. Forensic experts were called in and they established that the tires had been hit by a bullet. Another bullet was found in the bus’s engine, which was located at the rear of the vehicle. Once it became clear that the shots had been fired from the university grounds, the police obtained permission to have the immunity rule lifted so they could continue their search. Officers found a total of seven cartridge cases, but it was not clear what happened to the remaining five bullets, which did not hit the bus. Ballistic experts suggested that the shots may have been fired from a Kalashnikov rifle. There was speculation that a marksman had aimed low to convey a message rather than actually injure or kill anyone on the bus. The fact that a Kalashnikov rifle was involved suggests, according to police sources, a possible Albanian connection as these guns find their way into Greece from the neighboring country. A number of Albanians are also thought to have been involved and in some case were at the forefront of recent rioting in Athens. The response from the government and the police was noticeably low-key as they hope the incident will not lead to any further violence.