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Gunmen Shoot at Greek Prime Minister's Office

Shoot at Prime Minister's OfficeGreece’s political parties engaged in disputes over political violence on Jan. 14 after at least nine shots were fired at the Athens headquarters of New Democracy, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ party which is overseeing a wobbly coalition with the PASOK Socialists and tiny Democratic Left.
The incident came in the wake of bombs being set off at the residences of four prominent journalists and the brother of the government’s spokesman, prompting New Democracy to call on political parties to unite against violence.
One of the shots fired at around 2.30 a.m. from a Kalashnikov assault rifle hit Samaras’ office, the newspaper Kathimerini reported. The bullet smashed through the window and left a mark on the wall.There were no injuries as the building was empty at the time.
“At around 3 a.m. (0100 UCT) security guards saw two men come out of a black car and open fire with a Kalashnikov on the building, which was empty at the time in question. A bullet went through the window of the political office of the prime minister, Antonis Samaras, and nine rounds of ammunition were found on the ground,” said a police officer.
Police forensic teams collected nine Kalashnikov assault rifle casings from the scene and were investigating a stolen car believed to have been used in the attack that was later found burnt in a neighboring district. A spokesman for the Greek government, Simos Kedikoglou, speculated that the attack was a symbolic one directed against Samaras. “It is a new and worrying escalation from those who want to spread terror in our society,” he said.
 The party’s headquarters are located on Syngrou Avenue in southern Athens and police found a burned-out car a few miles away in the suburb of Palaio Faliro. Officers said they believe that the car, reported stolen, is linked to the attack as the fire brigade was called to the scene at about 3 a.m., shortly after the raid on ND’s headquarters. “Democracy, New Democracy and the country’s Prime Minister Antonis Samaras cannot be terrorized,” said the secretary of ND’s political committee, Manolis Kefaloyiannis.
The attack came a day after assailants set off an incendiary device at the home of government spokesman Kedikoglou’s brother. Nobody was injured in that attack even though Giorgos Kedikoglou was at home with his family when it occurred.
Several New Democracy and PASOK offices around Athens were also firebombed over the weekend. A total of 17 incendiary attacks, including on the main opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA)office in Iraklio, Crete, were recorded over the weekend.
Early on Friday, the homes of five journalists were the subject of attacks. Again, there were no injuries. A group called Militant Minority claimed responsibility for the attack. The organization also claimed an attack on the home of ex-Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou in December.
The spate of attacks, as well as police operations to clear squats in central Athens, have been at the center of a full-blown political row between the coalition parties and SYRIZA, which has been accused of having an equivocal stance on the use of violence – a charge that the leftists vehemently deny.
“The difference between inflammatory statements and inflammatory attacks is very small,” government spokesman Kedikoglou said. “There has to be a clear denouncement of violence and verbal violence.”
Kedikoglou said he had been receiving threatening phone calls as the government said SYRIZA, made up of a loose collection of Leftists, Maiosts, Trotskyites, Communists, ecologists and other diverse philosophies hadn’t denounced the growing violence in politics as the government imposes more harsh austerity measures. Critics also accused SYRIZA of implicitly supporting violence.
SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis said the party’s condemnation of recent attacks was a “given,” although he didn’t add to it. He accused New Democracy of trying to polarize the political climate in order to draw attention from austerity measures and the state of the economy.
He referred to the assailants as “useful idiots” and said that ND was creating a “civil war climate.” SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras is reported to have called Samaras to ask for an investigation into the attack on ND’s headquarters.

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