Suspected Greek terrorists unleashed an unprecedented two-day wave of mail bomb attacks in Athens and abroad.
Greek militant groups are suspected of mounting the attacks targeting embassies in Athens and international organizations and foreign leaders abroad.
Greece has suspended international air mail for 48 hours to allow Greek authorities to check that no further bombs are in the postal system.
Security at all embassies in Athens has been increased as at least 11 mail bombs had been detected in the Greek capital – with parcel bombs addressed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italan President Silvio Berlusconi and eight to the embassies of Bulgaria, Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, Chile, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Two more were destroyed in controlled explosions at Athens’ international airport – one addressed to the European Union’s highest court in Luxembourg and the other to law enforcement agency Europol in the Netherlands.
“A little flame was sparked” when a package addressed to Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi was opened by bomb experts at the airport at Bologna, Italy, said police spokeswoman Donatella Dosi. No one was injured.
The TNT cargo plane had made an emergency landing in Bologna after TNT officials back in Greece realized there was a package aboard addressed to Berlusconi and informed the pilot, she said.
It was unclear whether the bomb sent to Germany was delivered by land or air.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the package that arrived Tuesday at Merkel’s office was sent from Greece two days earlier by UPS delivery and resembled the Athens packages.
UPS, which transports mail in Europe both by ground and air, said it was aware of reports it had delivered the package but could not confirm them. “We’re working closely with authorities to investigate,” UPS spokesman Norman Black said by e-mail.
Sarkozy said French authorities were working with Greek police.
“The threat is very serious. We are extremely vigilant and I am following it very closely,” Sarkozy said during a visit to London.
In an e-mail official announcement on Tuesday afternoon Greek police confirmed the discovery of five bomb devices all over Athens on Tuesday.
The recipient of the booby-trapped parcel which was detonated outside the parliament was the Chilean embassy in Athens. The courier found it suspicious and on his way to the embassy notified experienced guards at the government’s headquarters and then left it to the hands of experts at the nearby parliament building who detonated it.
According to the Chilean ambassador in Greece the parcel was meant for her.
Also on Tuesday two bomb devices went off at the garden of the Swiss embassy and the Russian embassy in Athens. In both cases employees spotted the suspicious packages and the parcels exploded before counter terrorism squads arrived.
Greek experts detonated during the same day two booby-trapped parcels outside the Bulgarian embassy and inside a courier company with recipient of the German embassy in Athens, Greek police officials reaffirmed.
The attacks began Monday when a mail bomb addressed to the Mexican embassy exploded at a delivery service in central Athens, lightly wounding one worker.
Police arrested two men in their twenties shortly after the blast. They were allegedly carrying mail bombs addressed to Sarkozy and the Belgian Embassy, along with handguns and bullets in waist pouches.
The two – Panagiotis Argyros, 22 and Gerasimos Tsakalos, 24, were charged with terrorism-related offenses. Both refused to cooperate with authorities, declining to give their names and claiming to be political prisoners.
Police say Argyros was already wanted for alleged membership in a radical group called Conspiracy Nuclei of Fire, which has carried out crude arson and small bomb attacks in the past.
Source: Associated Press, Kathimerini, BBC, Reuters, Xinhua