December 12, 2005

Bomb blast at Greek Economy Ministry injures two

By Karolos Grohmann

ATHENS (Reuters) - A bomb explosion rocked Greece's Economy
Ministry in central Athens on Monday, injuring two people and
causing extensive damage, police said.

The blast blew out nearby shop fronts, damaged cars and
cafes and shattered windows in the business district of the
city shortly before the morning rush hour.

The ministry, located above a post office in the city's
main Syntagma Square and about 100 metres from parliament, was
closed at the time of the blast, the second such attack in six

"Initial evidence shows the explosion was triggered by a
home-made explosive device placed outside the ministry," a
police spokeswoman said. "There are two people injured slightly
in the blast."

A police source later said the bomb had been left on a
motorcycle parked close to the building.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the blast.
Police said there had been two warning calls to a Greek
newspaper about half an hour before the explosion.

"There is a bomb outside the Economy Ministry and this is
not a joke," said the first caller to the daily Eleftherotypia
newspaper at 0240 GMT, 27 minutes before the explosion.


Police sealed off the area. The two people injured by
flying glass shards were beyond the police cordon, officials

It was the second bomb attack at a government building in
six months. In June, a guerrilla group calling itself
"Revolutionary Struggle" bombed the Labour Ministry, causing no
injuries but seriously damaging the building.

While initially saying the explosive device was made up of
about 10 medium-sized gas canisters, police later said it was a
bomb triggered by an alarm clock.

"Gas canisters found near the site are not related to the
blast but to some construction," a police source said.

Police consider this a more powerful bomb than those used
during minor attacks by fringe groups in recent years.
Officials did not say whether the explosion was being linked to
the appeals trial of 15 members of Greece's once-feared
November 17 radical leftist guerrilla group.

Several fringe groups had warned in recent weeks of attacks
during the appeals trial, which began two weeks ago.

Dozens of police cars and fire trucks were at the scene as
forensic experts combed through the debris.

"I was lucky to escape this blast alive," one kiosk owner
told Reuters. "I heard it and then just felt the shockwave,
which was big."