A 30-year-old member of the police’s new rapid-reaction force set up to crack down on rising crime in the capital was in critical condition yesterday after being shot in the head in a standoff with two gunmen in the central Athens district of Kypseli that also led to his 34-year-old colleague sustaining less serious injuries. Officially police said that they were investigating «all eventualities,» though, off the record, they attributed the attack to foreign criminals, possibly members of the Russian mafia, noting that the guns used in the shootings were a Russian revolver and a pistol of the type that was once used by the Russian armed forces. The two officers had been dispatched to the Kypseli area shortly after midnight on Thursday to investigate a claim regarding a car theft when they stopped a passerby for an identity check. The man said he was Russian and that he had identification papers. A woman, who it later emerged is a 50-year-old local resident, then appeared from a nearby apartment block and approached a garbage dumpster carrying a trash bag. On spotting the officers talking to the suspect, the woman is alleged to have intervened, swearing at the officers and telling them that she knew the man. In the meantime, according to the testimony of the elder officer, a second suspect sneaked up behind the 30-year-old policeman and shot him in the head at almost point-blank range. The bullet pierced the helmet the officer had been wearing and entered his head. The other suspect then produced a gun, firing at the 34-year-old officer and also hitting his helmet. The two suspects then stripped both officers of their weapons and mobile phones before fleeing on a motorcycle whose license plate ends in 421. The elder officer, who had sustained only minor injuries, got up off the ground and told the woman who had intervened to hand over her mobile phone so that he could call for help. The 30-year-old officer was transferred to the hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery and was yesterday in critical condition, while the elder officer had his minor injuries treated. The woman was detained for several hours for questioning until officers established that she was not linked to the attackers and had merely thought she recognized one of the suspects, prompting her to intervene. She is to face charges of facilitating the escape of a suspect.