One dead, 2 hurt in vicious attacks

Attica’s beleaguered police force was yesterday struggling for leads to three violent crimes that occurred within the space of just a few hours, leaving one person dead, another with serious head wounds and a third having lost both his legs. A 62-year-old businessman had to have both legs amputated after suffering severe injuries in a car explosion outside his home in the coastal suburb of Voula shortly before 9 a.m. yesterday. Police said the businessman’s car had been booby-trapped using an explosive device connected to the vehicle’s ignition. They said the attack was probably not the work of terrorists but a settling of accounts. They noted that the target may not even have been the 62-year-old, an importer of Brazilian lingerie who runs a store in Voula, but another resident in the apartment block. Officers said that a bomb had been planted outside the same apartment block in 2004. A few hours before the attack in Voula, a 32-year-old man was shot dead in the central Athens district of Kypseli in what police described as a «settling of accounts between underworld gangs.» According to witnesses, two men approached the victim while he was in his car and one of them shot him at close range. Later in the day a gunman approached a couple in Nea Philadelphia, northwestern Athens, and shot the 37-year-old man in the head, leaving him in critical condition. Police said the attack was probably the result of a dispute over a drug deal as the couple were allegedly addicts. Meanwhile, in another embarrassment for police, an officer appointed to guard Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis reportedly shot himself in the thigh while driving home from duty on Thursday night. The officer’s firearm went off accidentally as he was loosening his belt, reports said. Fortunately he was close to a military hospital and was able to get swift treatment to stop the bleeding.

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