Gas canisters target offices of three Thessaloniki ND politicians; staff evacuated

Gas canisters target offices of three Thessaloniki ND politicians; staff evacuated

Small bombs exploded at the offices of three prominent conservative politicians in northern Greece late Tuesday, leaving staff briefly stranded in fires caused by the blasts, authorities said.

The attacks occurred within several minutes in central Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city, and were carried out using small cooking gas canisters.

City fire official Manolis Tsolakis said one of the attacks targeted the private office of the deputy development minister, Stavros Kalafatis, where a fire caused extensive damage to the eighth-story office. Two female office employees jumped to the seventh floor to escape the fire.

"The fire was in progress when the two women got out,» he said. One of the women received medical attention in hospital after hurting her leg, fire service officials said.

Nearby, four people were rescued by firefighters at the sites of the other attacks at the offices of conservative parliament members Giorgos Orfanos and Costas Gioulekas that sustained more limited damage.

The three politicians are all members of the centre-right New Democracy party that is leading Greece's coalition government formed after general elections last June.

Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou called the attacks an act of terrorism.

"Bombers in hoods do not make the decisions in a democracy. The people do,» he said. «Acts of terrorism will not affect the government. They confirm that we are on the right path."

Attacks using small bombs and incendiary devices are common in Greece, and frequently carried out by far-left and anarchist groups. Politicians have been targeted more frequently since the country was affected by a major financial crisis.

Separately Tuesday, anti-terrorism officers raided two apartments in greater Athens after seizing a weapons stash in the trunk of a rented car.

The weapons were found in central Athens, and included four hand grenades, two automatic rifles, ammunition magazines and two crates of rifle bullets. No arrests were announced.

The discovery triggered the raid on a nearby apartment and at the port of Piraeus.

Police awaiting a ballistics examination of the two rifles to determine whether they match weapons used in attacks by local armed groups.


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