Officer shoots guard at home of US diplomat

Greece’s beleaguered police force was given another two serious problems to handle yesterday after an officer shot a private security guard outside the US ambassador’s residence in Athens and a previously unheard of terrorist group claimed Tuesday’s armed attack on a police station. At about 11.45 a.m., a 37-year-old policeman who was stationed at a guard post outside the residence of US Ambassador Daniel Speckhard fired twice at a 29-year-old contract security guard who was part of the team protecting the building. Policemen who rushed to the scene after hearing two shots fired said they found the 37-year-old, who was not named, standing next to the private guard, who had been struck in the neck and was lying on the ground. The police officer was unable to explain what had happened and was arrested. Upon questioning, he did not give any coherent answer about why he shot the unnamed 29-year-old. «The explanations he has given so far are unconvincing,» said police spokesman Panayiotis Stathis. Sources said that some officers have suggested that the 37-year-old had been suffering from mental problems and that he had exhibited unusual behavior in the past. Stathis said that there were no transgressions listed in the officer’s personnel file. The 29-year-old was taken to the hospital, where he was being treated in critical condition last night. «I want to express my sympathy for what this young guard and his family are going through and wish him a speedy recovery,» said Ambassador Speckhard in a statement. Police Chief Vassilis Tsiatouras suspended the head of the Ambelokipi station, where the 37-year-old was serving, as well as his superior at police headquarters, pending an internal investigation. Meanwhile, a group calling itself the Sect of Revolutionaries yesterday claimed responsibility for a dawn attack on the Korydallos police station on Tuesday, in which three hooded assailants fired several shots and threw a hand grenade that failed to explode. The group left a proclamation on a computer disc at the grave of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos, killed by a police officer in December, before calling the Ta Nea newspaper. «It seems to be genuine; it’s a group that has not appeared before but the methodology seems to be the same as that of Revolutionary Struggle,» Stathis told The Associated Press.