ATHENS – With a first round of elections by the Parliament for a Greek President about to start and enmeshed in political infighting, Greek anti-terrorist police are reportedly fearful that guerrilla groups who’ve been going after banks and buildings will seek human targets, most likely politicians or judicial figures.
That apprehension comes following last week’s gunfire attack on the Israeli Embassy and the rise of yet another terrorist group, the Popular fighters, in a country that has scores of extremist groups and anarchists angry with the government over austerity measures and other ills.
Now the counter-terrorism unit is on alert for another assault of a high-ranking figure and are on high alert. The Parliament will vote on Dec. 17 whether to confirm New Democracy Vice-President Stavros Dimas for the symbolic post of Greek President in a highly-charged ballot that pits his party – of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras – against the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) that hopes to block the election and force early national elections with polls showing the Leftists leading.
SYRIZA is opposed to the big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings implemented by Samaras on orders of international lenders and bankers who’ve come together to support Samaras and warn voters not to side with the Leftists or face economic catastrophe and collapse, which SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras has called fear-mongering.
Concerns are mounting as there had been no claim of responsibility for the rifle attack on the Israeli Embassy. Ballistics tests revealed that the two Kalashnikov assault rifles used in the embassy shooting were also used in a similar hit a year ago against the German Ambassador’s residence.
That attack was claimed by the Group of Popular Fighters, which also fired at the downtown offices of New Democracy in January 2013, hitting Samaras’ office. None of the attacks resulted in any injuries. But police fear that a new hit, probably by the same group, could target politicians or high-ranking judicial officials, Kathimerini said.
There is also a possibility that terrorists might choose a police target. The police have bolstered security for individuals already regarded as possible targets while police precincts have been instructed to boost their vigilance, similar to an earlier alert over terrorism activity when police were ready to position snipers on rooftops at key points around the city.
Authorities have not ruled out the possible involvement of Nikos Maziotis, the jailed leader of the Revolutionary Struggle guerrilla group, in recent or possible forthcoming hits.
Maziotis, who has said he has no links with Group of Popular Fighters, last week posted a document on the anti-establishment website Indymedia titled “Elections are not the answer, armed struggle is.”
Another notorious terrorist, Christodoulos Xiros from the dreaded November 17 group that was disbanded, is on the loose as well, having walked away from a holiday vacation he was given from prison despite serving six life sentences for his role in six murders, including five Americans attached to the US Embassy over the years. He vowed a return to violence but hasn’t struck.
There is fury among terrorists and anarchists over the austerity measures aimed at workers, pensioners and the poor while the government has let politicians, the rich and tax cheats largely escape sacrifice and made others pay for generations of wild overspending and runaway patronage by alternating administrations of New Democracy and the PASOK Socialists, who now run the country in a coalition.
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