Armed standoffs fuel concern

On a day that saw a bank robber from Kazakhstan hide in a Rendi warehouse armed with a hand grenade for three hours after a police chase and a policeman fire his gun at a cafe owner in Plaka, Alternate Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis proposed the creation of a body that would help fight crime in the capital. A 24-year-old Kazakh, who robbed a branch of Millennium Bank in Piraeus shortly after 1 p.m., was cornered following a police chase near the junction of Pireos and Kifissou streets and sought refuge in a warehouse belonging to the Social Security Foundation (IKA). Dozens of officers were sent in as backup after it emerged that the suspect was armed with a hand grenade and gun. All employees at the site were evacuated speedily. A police psychologist then spent nearly three hours convincing the robber to turn himself in. It transpired that the robber’s gun was fake, although the grenade was real. Meanwhile in the busy tourist district of Plaka, an off-duty police officer fired his gun at the owner of a local cafe after a dispute. The cafe owner, who sustained serious injuries, was transferred to the hospital and the officer taken in for questioning. In a related development, the Insurance Organization for the Self-Employed said it would be beefing up security at its branches after a man burst into a Kallithea branch on Thursday and threatened an employee at gunpoint over a delay in the disbursement of his pension. Meanwhile a coroner who examined the body of a 32-year-old woman shot dead in an electronics retailer branch in Vyronas on Thursday said that the bullet that killed her had come from the gun of the Albanian robber who had threatened her, not the off-duty officer who exchanged fire with the suspect. Markoyiannakis, the minister in charge of public order, yesterday proposed the creation of a body that would work with the police to tackle the rise in crime in central Athens. He said that «policing alone is not enough.»

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