Monday 29 May 2017

'Terrorists' in Greece to blame for spate of mail bombs

Anti-terrorism police escort a mail bomb suspect to a public prosecutor's office in Athens, Greece, yesterday
Anti-terrorism police escort a mail bomb suspect to a public prosecutor's office in Athens, Greece, yesterday

Nicholas Paphitis in Athens

Suspected Greek terrorists unleashed an unprecedented two-day wave of mail bombs with blasts at the Russian and Swiss embassies in Athens and at international organisations.

The blitz forced the Greek government to impose a ban on international mail parcels.

Greek police also confirmed last night that a suspicious package addressed to Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi was found on board a private mail courier company plane at Bologna airport.

The package came after a wave of mail bombs were sent to foreign embassies in Greece and to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's office.

Police spokesman Athanassios Kokalakis says the plane took off from Athens airport at about 9.45pm yesterday and was to head to Paris and Liege. He said the suspicious package was detected and the plane landed in Bologna in Italy, where experts were examining it.

Explosions

By yesterday evening, at least 11 mail bombs had been detected in the Greek capital -- one addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Two more were destroyed in controlled explosions at the Athens airport -- one addressed to the European Union's highest court in Luxembourg and the other to law enforcement agency Europol in the Netherlands.

It was unclear whether the bomb sent to Germany was delivered by land or air.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the package that arrived yesterday at Ms Merkel's office was sent from Greece two days earlier by UPS delivery and resembled the Athens packages.

The news agency DAPD reported the package contained a pipe filled with black powder.

Nicolas Sarkozy said French authorities were working with Greek police.

"The threat is very serious. We are extremely vigilant and I am following it very closely," he said.

The attacks began Monday when a mail bomb addressed to the Mexican embassy exploded at a delivery service in central Athens, lightly wounding one worker.

Police arrested two men in their twenties shortly after the blast.

They were allegedly carrying mail bombs addressed to Mr Sarkozy and the Belgian Embassy, along with handguns and bullets in waist pouches.

The two -- Panagiotis Argyros (22) and Gerasimos Tsakalos (24) -- were charged with terrorism-related offenses yesterday.

Irish Independent

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