Two police officers have died and others were injured, after they were shot by a group of armed robbers in an incident in Renti, near the port of the Piraeus on Tuesday.

The squad of motorcycle-riding DIAS officers were on patrol when they tried to stop a Volvo SUV which they identified as having stolen license plates. The unknown individuals in the car reportedly refused to stop and opened fire, shooting at the policemen. Greece’s Parliament observed a minute of silence on Wednesday to honour the dead police officers.

Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos said he felt “crushed” by the deaths of the two young men and underlined the parliament’s gratitude to all police officers who put their lives at risk on a daily basis. He also wished a quick recovery to their fellow officers who were also wounded in the incident. Mr Petsalnikos underlined that the police “put their lives at risk under dangerous and adverse circumstances to ensure the citizens’ safety and protection. They are appreciated and honoured for this.”

President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias issued a statement expressing his “sincerest condolence” over the deaths, commenting that “we are living in rough times” where crime is becoming more and more violent and acquiring ever more abhorrent forms. Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis also issued a statement on behalf of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and the entire government, in which he also expresses his stern condemnation for the “cowardly attack”.

The incident comes a week after police intercepted a getaway car on a south-central highway carrying five armed suspects, all Albanian nationals, suspected of robbing a handful of banks and post offices in the Fthiotida prefecture in the course of several days.

The guns used to shoot dead two policemen on Tuesday had not been used in other crimes, police sources said on Wednesday following ballistics tests, Kathimerini reported, but officers believe the attack may have been carried out by robbers that were previously active in central Greece.

Source: Athens News, ANA-MPA