The home of Germany’s ambassador to Athens was sprayed with gunfire early yesterday, in a suspected terrorist attack that prompted both governments to declare it would not strain ties between bailed-out Greece and its leading lender.
No one was hurt in the pre-dawn attack when gunmen riddled the official residence of ambassador Wolfgang Dold with bullets from two AK-47 assault rifles. Police said they had recovered more than 60 bullet casings.
The Greek government called the shooting a “cowardly terrorist action” aimed at hurting the country’s image before it takes over the presidency of the 28-nation EU and seeks a major debt relief deal with eurozone creditors.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred on a busy road in the Halandri area north of the capital.
Six people were briefly detained for questioning and released without charge while investigators examined video from surveillance cameras as well as a stolen car found near the scene, police said.
As Greece’s biggest bailout lender, Germany is often the subject of strong criticism in the country. Greece is suffering through a sixth year of recession and austerity measures imposed as a condition of its rescue loans.
Dold, a 55-year-old with three children, thanked the Greek government for the police’s “swift response”.
“To those responsible for this action, I state it will not affect the close and friendly relations between our two countries and it will not reverse the country’s economic recovery,” Dold said in a statement.
Foreign diplomats in Greece were repeatedly targeted by far-left terrorist groups since the mid-1970s, but such attacks have been rare since a police crackdown on radical militants more than a decade ago.
Yesterday, prime minister Antonis Samaras telephoned German chancellor Angela Merkel as well the German ambassador following the attack.
The Greek government condemned the attack. “The perpetrators will soon be brought to justice,” a foreign ministry statement said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved