Friday 22 September 2017

Former Greek PM injured by letter bomb in his car

Police at the car of Lucas Papademos in Athens yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Police at the car of Lucas Papademos in Athens yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Nicholas Paphitis in Athens

A letter bomb exploded inside the car of former Greek prime minister Lucas Papademos in central Athens yesterday, wounding him and two Bank of Greece employees, officials said.

All three were described as being conscious and hospitalised, and are in a stable condition.

"I unequivocally condemn the attack against Lucas Papademos," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tweeted from his official account. "I wish a speedy recovery to him and the people who accompanied him."

Police were on alert to determine whether any other parcel bombs might have been sent out, and were checking postal and courier services. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Greek politicians have been targeted in the past by militant far-left and anarchist groups.

Mr Papademos (69), who served as prime minister for six months in 2011-2012 and is also a former deputy governor of the European Central Bank, had been inside his car when the device detonated. Police haven't officially confirmed reports that the blast was caused by a parcel bomb containing a small amount of explosives. But a police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the explosion occurred when Mr Papademos opened an envelope. Anti-terrorism police were at the hospital where Mr Papademos was being treated last night in order to interview him on the details of the envelope.

Another police official said one of the other two wounded in the blast told anti-terrorism police that he had handed Mr Papademos the mail earlier, and that before doing so he had put it through an X-ray machine but that nothing suspicious had shown up.

Lucas Papademos
Lucas Papademos

The police official said the injured man said a book had been among the mail, and authorities were investigating whether the explosive device could have been inside that package.

Earlier this year, a group called Conspiracy Cells of Fire claimed responsibility for sending parcel bombs to the German Finance Ministry and the Paris office of the International Monetary Fund, where a small explosion injured one person.

The group also claimed responsibility for a spate of parcel bombings in 2010 targeting several embassies in Athens and the offices of European leaders abroad. In the same year, a parcel bomb disguised as a gift exploded at the office of the Public Order Minister in Athens, killing one of the minister's top aides.

In yesterday's attack, police said Mr Papademos' police escort had been in a car behind his vehicle. Authorities cordoned off the area, and forensics experts were investigating the scene.

The car was parked by the side of the road, in front of its escort vehicle. Mr Papademos' car bore little sign of damage, except for buckling on two doors.

Irish Independent

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