Two terrorist suspects held for letter bombs

Officers of the police’s counter-terrorism unit yesterday were questioning two suspected members of the Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire who are believed to be responsible for a letter bomb that exploded at a courier firm east of central Athens and another three similar devices – addressed to two embassies in Athens and to French President Nicolas Sarkozy – which police managed to intercept. Police were dispatched to the courier firm in Pangrati at around noon, after a package addressed to the Mexican Embassy in Athens exploded in the hands of a female employee who suffered minor burns to her hands. Using physical descriptions given by witnesses at the courier company, police caught up with the assailants shortly after the blast. Later yesterday, police released photographs of the suspects – both Greeks, aged 22 and 24. The suspects had both been wearing bullet-proof vests and carrying Glock 9 mm pistols as well as a bag that was found to contain two more letter bombs – one addressed to the French President, the other to the Belgian Embassy in Athens. One of the suspects was found to be carrying a receipt from another courier company, located close to the first one. Police rushed to the second courier firm and collected the package – another letter bomb addressed to the Netherlands Embassy. Bomb disposal experts destroyed the three letter bombs in controlled explosions. Police did not determine the composition of the bombs yesterday but they are each believed to have comprised small quantities of gunpowder and a battery. According to sources, the package that had been addressed to Sarkozy bore the name of Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos as the purported sender. As for the package addressed to the Belgian Embassy, that had ostensibly been sent by criminologist Yiannis Panousis. A similar tactic was used in June with a bomb that detonated inside the Citizens’ Protection Ministry, killing the aide to the then minister, Michalis Chrysochoidis. The name written as the sender of the package was Christos Karavellas, a key suspect in the Siemens cash-for-contracts scandal.