Four Small Parcel Bombs Explode in Athens, Greek Police Say

Nov. 1: A police officer prepares for a controlled explosion of a suspect package in Athens, Greece.

Nov. 1: A police officer prepares for a controlled explosion of a suspect package in Athens, Greece.  (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Police in Greece say five embassies were targeted in mail bomb attacks, with two of the devices exploding but causing no injuries.

The blasts occurred Tuesday outside the Swiss Embassy and at a Russian Embassy compound, while booby-trapped parcels sent to the embassies of Bulgaria, Germany and Chile were destroyed in separate controlled explosions.

The attacks follow the arrest of two Greek mail-bomb suspects in Athens Monday on suspicion of trying to post at least four parcel bombs to French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Mexican, Dutch and Belgian embassies.

uthorities searched surrounding streets and arrested two suspects shortly after the blast. They were carrying mail bombs addressed to Sarkozy and the Belgian Embassy, along with handguns and bullets in waist pouches. One wore body armor, a wig and a baseball cap.

Police detonated the bombs along with a fourth device found at a delivery company and addressed to the Dutch Embassy.

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One of the men was wanted in connection with an investigation into a radical anarchist group known as Conspiracy Nuclei of Fire, which has claimed responsibility for a spate of small bomb and arson attacks over the past two years.

The explosions began again Tuesday with the detonation of a bomb in the courtyard outside a six-story building that's home to the Swiss Embassy. Soon after, a courier heading for another embassy became suspicious about a package and stopped at Parliament, where police on guard duty detonated a bomb.

Police then found explosive devices at the Bulgarian Embassy and a central Athens courier company and set them off in controlled explosions.
A fifth bomb went off on the ground of the Russian Embassy.

None of the bombs were powerful, and no link was made with the recently discovered Yemen-based mail bomb plot.

The attacks by radical left-wing and anarchist groups, which have killed three people, surged after the December 2008 fatal shooting by police of an Athens teenager, which led to days of rioting throughout Greece.

Much of the unrest harks back to the sharp postwar divide between right and left, which led to a civil war and a seven-year military dictatorship. Although a student uprising succeeded in ending military rule in 1974, there are still tensions between Greece's security establishment and a phalanx of deeply entrenched leftist groups that often protest against globalization and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and elsewhere.

"The government condemns in the strongest possible way those who try in vain to terrorize and disturb the public tranquility," government spokesman George Petalotis said. "The police's reaction was excellent, resulting in the arrest of two suspects, and their work will continue in a vigorous manner."
Both suspects were due to appear before an Athens prosecutor later Tuesday.

Police believe the parcels that went off Tuesday were posted the day before.

Parliament speaker Philippos Petsalnikos also condemned what he called "wretched actions."

"No one can terrorize democracy," he said.