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Athens car bombers target bank ahead of Merkel visit

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Police bomb disposal experts search next to the remains of a car after a car bomb exploded in central Athens. The bomb exploded outside a Bank of Greece building in central Athens before dawn, causing some damage but no injuries. Photo: AP

Police bomb disposal experts search next to the remains of a car after a car bomb exploded in central Athens. The bomb exploded outside a Bank of Greece building in central Athens before dawn, causing some damage but no injuries. Photo: AP

Forensic experts search for evidence where a car bomb went off outside a bank in Athens yesterday

Forensic experts search for evidence where a car bomb went off outside a bank in Athens yesterday

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Police bomb disposal experts search next to the remains of a car after a car bomb exploded in central Athens. The bomb exploded outside a Bank of Greece building in central Athens before dawn, causing some damage but no injuries. Photo: AP

A car bomb exploded outside a central bank building in Athens early yesterday morning, smashing windows but causing no injuries, just hours before Greece was due to make its first foray into the international bond markets in four years.

The dawn blast, which police believe was carried out by leftist or anarchist guerrilla groups, also came a day before a planned visit to Athens by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

An anonymous caller warned a newspaper about 45 minutes before the explosion just before 6am, saying it contained about 70kg of explosives, a police official said on condition of anonymity. A news website also received a warning call.

Witnesses saw debris strewn across the street in one of the busiest parts of central Athens that is lined with banks, shops and a mall. A second police official, who also declined to be named, said the force had yet to determine the amount and type of explosives used in the attack.

"It is clear that the attackers are trying to set the agenda," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told Skai TV. "We will not allow the terrorists to succeed."

Makeshift bomb and arson attacks have escalated since Greece adopted unpopular austerity measures in exchange for multi-billion euro bailouts by the EU and International Monetary Fund from 2010.

Athens tapped bond markets later yesterday with a heavily subscribed €3bn five-year deal offering a yield of just 4.95pc. The new transaction, which marks Greece's first international bond issue in four years, attracted more than €20bn of interest from over 550 investors.

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