NEWS

In Brief

VANDALS AMOK

Youths with sledgehammers smash four banks in Petralona A group of around 20 hooded youths used sledgehammers and iron bars to vandalize four bank branches on a busy street in the central Athens district of Petralona early yesterday afternoon. Millennium, Piraeus and National Bank branches sustained serious damage in the attacks, though there were no reports of any injuries. The perpetrators managed to elude arrest. Meanwhile, police said they had detained 20 suspects for questioning after a sweep in the central district of Exarchia. They did not say whether the detentions were connected to the Petralona spree. ISAP DISRUPTIONS Attiki-Neo Ionia section out The section of the Piraeus-Kifissia urban electric railway (ISAP) between Attiki and Neo Ionia stations will not be operating today and tomorrow as work to upgrade the network gets under way. Commuters will be able to make use of a replacement bus service. Cyprus talks United Nations special envoy Alexander Downer said yesterday that rival leaders on the divided island of Cyprus had made «real progress» following the leaders’ 25th face-to-face meeting yesterday. Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias was more guarded, saying that there were «serious disagreements.» Meanwhile, sources said that Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat is to meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington next week. Hotel robbery Two gunmen burst into the lobby of the Intercontinental Hotel on Syngrou Avenue yesterday afternoon, grabbing the briefcase of a businessman and fleeing. One of the robbers hit a woman outside the hotel with the butt of his gun as he fled. She was slightly injured. Ferry fire A high-speed passenger ferry docked safely at the island of Serifos early yesterday afternoon after crew members managed to extinguish a fire that had broken out earlier in one of the vessel’s four main engines. No harm came to any of the 512 passengers and 36 crew members. The blaze broke out while the vessel, which had originally been en route to Santorini from Piraeus, had been off the coast of Kythnos. The cause of the fire was unclear. Quake victim The body of 28-year-old Greek student Vassilis Koufolias, who died following the 6.3-Richter earthquake that hit the central Italian town of L’Aquila on Monday, was flown back to Athens late on Thursday night. Migrants intercepted Port Authority officials at the central port of Patras yesterday detained 12 illegal immigrants discovered hidden in a truck that had been due to board a ferry to Italy on Thursday night. The would-be migrants, whose ethnic origin was not determined, had been concealed in a special compartment in the vehicle. Shipping appeal The Union of Municipalities and Communities of the Dodecanese (TEDKDE) yesterday lodged an appeal with the European Court against the Greek state for failing to provide it with the necessary funding to build a ship that would service the needs of their island group.