Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Greece: Suspects carried letter bomb for Sarkozy

By DEREK GATOPOULOS, Associated Press Nov. 1st, 2010

ATHENS, Greece-- Greek police foiled four attempted parcel bomb attacks
Monday, allegedly targeting French President Nicolas Sarkozy and three
embassies in Athens, after one of the devices exploded at a delivery
service, leaving a worker hospitalized with burns.

Motorcycle police later detained two Greek men, aged 22 and 24, several
hundred meters from the blast site in central Athens.

Police said the men were carrying handguns and bullets in waist pouches,
and one of them wore a bulletproof vest, a wig and a baseball cap. The
suspects have not yet been charged.

Police said domestic political extremists were suspected, and one of the
two men detained had been wanted in connection with a Greek radical
anarchist group. Authorities said the bombs were not particularly
powerful, and no link was made with the Yemen-based mail bomb plot.

Police released photographs of the two suspects late Monday, but did not
identify them.

Parts of the city center were cordoned off for more than an hour around
midday as the three unexploded bombs, found at a different delivery
service and in the suspects' backpacks, were defused in a series of
controlled explosions.

Beyond Sarkozy, the targets were the embassies of Mexico, The Netherlands
and Belgium, police said. The return address labels included the names of
a senior government official, a Greek charity, and a well-known Greek
criminologist, police said.

They said the one that exploded was addressed to the Mexican Embassy. The
one addressed to the Dutch Embassy was found and defused at a delivery
service, police said. The other two the one addressed to the Belgian
Embassy and the one addressed to Sarkozy were found on the suspects,
police said.

Police were searching other courier services and post offices to check
whether other parcel bombs had been sent.

Sarkozy's office had no comment on the attempted attacks.

They occurred amid an international security alert over two powerful bombs
shipped last week from Yemen to the United States.

Police said both suspects detained Monday were Greek, and one was
suspected of belonging to Conspiracy Nuclei of Fire, a domestic anarchist
group that has carried out dozens of crude bomb and arson attacks.

Attacks by Greek militant groups ranging from deadly attacks against
police and powerful bomb blasts to minor arson attacks have flared since
riots occurred across the country in December 2008, triggered by the
police shooting of a teenager.

Embassies and overseas-based companies have been targeted in past attacks,
often in solidarity with protests occurring abroad, such as the
demonstrations in France protesting the raising of the retirement age.

In June 2009, a senior official at the country's public order ministry was
killed by a letter bomb an attack also linked to Greek militants.

After the official's death, officials said screening of mail would be more
intense but the procedures remain mostly unchanged.

Parcels sent by private courier are sealed in front of a company employee
and the sender, and they are only X-rayed if they pass through an airport.

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