Counterterrorism officers on Tuesday arrested 12 Turkish citizens, some of Kurdish origin, in Athens, Thessaloniki and Corinth after a boat carrying weapons and explosives and headed for Turkey was stopped in the Aegean, leading to another six arrests.
The coast guard stopped the 7-meter speedboat in the morning between the islands of Oinousses and Chios, close to the Turkish coast. They found two anti-tank shells, four hand grenades, two handguns, 195 bullets and two explosive devices on the vessel.
Two Greeks, aged 22 and 51, were arrested on the boat along with two Turkish citizens aged 33 and 55. Another two people, a 50-year-old Greek and a 54-year-old Turk, were arrested at the port on Chios after being linked to the vessel.
Sources said the two Greeks on the boat were not known to authorities but that the two Turks have criminal records. The 22-year-old said he had been paid 500 euros to sail the speedboat to Turkish shores.
Following the arrests, counterterrorism officers were sent to homes and hangouts of Turks and Kurds in the three cities. One of those arrested in Thessaloniki is wanted in Turkey for alleged membership of the extreme left-wing Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).
The party was linked to the bombing of the US Embassy in Ankara in February and Turkish authorities alleged that the bomber, Ecevit Sanli, passed through Greece. Last week, the Greek Foreign Ministry dismissed as “beyond conspiracy theory” a Turkish report that Kurdish and leftist terrorists who were training in Greece had been been allowed by Greek authorities to leave for Syria, from where they could launch attacks on Turkey.