Large bank bomb linked to terror group

A powerful bomb that exploded outside a bank in Argyroupoli, southeast Athens, early yesterday, causing massive damage but no injuries, is believed to be the work of the Revolutionary Struggle terrorist group, police sources said yesterday. As well as resurrecting concerns about resurgent domestic terrorist activity, the explosion was something of an embarrassment to police after it emerged that three officers in a patrol car had spotted the perpetrators half an hour before the explosion but had failed to take the necessary action to avert the attack. According to police, the officers spotted two men on a motorcycle outside a branch of Eurobank during a routine patrol at around 3.30 a.m. One of the two men, who both wore helmets, was seen leaving a bag in front of the bank, police said. By the time the officers got out of the patrol car, the suspects had started up the motorcycle and drawn guns on the police. They then drove off, followed by another two suspects on another motorcycle. A few minutes later, an anonymous telephone call was made to the Eleftherotypia newspaper, warning that a bomb would go off within half an hour outside the branch of Eurobank on the corner of Vouliagmenis Avenue and Geroulanos Street. The blast, which occurred just after 4 a.m., totally wrecked the first floor of the building, damaged several parked cars and shattered the windows of apartment blocks up to 100 meters away. The device is believed to have consisted of some 10 kilos of gelatin dynamite and to have been operated by a timer. The official police stance yesterday was that the three officers in the patrol car reacted properly, as a more aggressive response could have provoked a shootout and led to injuries. But in private police sources conceded that the officers in the patrol car «were caught off guard and did not properly assess the seriousness of the situation.»

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