NEWS

Shootout to prompt more police operations

Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis yesterday announced the launch of a crackdown on violent crime, following the death of a 25-year-old passer-by in a shootout between police and two criminals in the eastern Athens district of Vyronas on Tuesday. President Karolos Papoulias sent his condolences to the family of Nikollas Todi, saying he was «deeply saddened by the unjust loss of an innocent fellow citizen.» Describing the two Albanians involved in the shootout as «exceptionally dangerous criminals,» Chrysochoidis sought to temper comments by senior police officials according to whom their capture was «a success.» «What happened in Vyronas was a crucial battle that was won at a very heavy cost,» he said. «We cannot speak of success when we are mourning the loss of a life.» The minister added that a beefed-up crime-fighting force would be operational in the next few months. Meanwhile, as the two Albanians faced a prosecutor, ballistics tests showed that the nine bullets that hit the 25-year-old bystander had all been fired from 9 mm handguns, like those carried by police and the suspects. Police Chief Lefteris Economou said there were suspicions that the perpetrators involved in Tuesday’s shooting were the same as those who disarmed two police officers in the northern Athens suburb of Maroussi on Monday night. According to Chrysochoidis, a search of the hideout in Vyronas turned up hand grenades, Kalashnikov assault rifles and explosives. Late last night, police bomb disposal experts destroyed an explosive device discovered outside Chrysochoidis’s political office in Peristeri, western Athens. The discovery of the device came a day after a blast outside the offices of US investment firm JP Morgan.