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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 May, 2004, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Greek capital hit by triple blast
Investigators at blast scene
Cars were wrecked and windows in nearby buildings shattered
Three bombs have exploded outside a police station in the Greek capital, Athens, just 100 days before the start of the Olympic Games.

They injured a policeman and badly damaged the station in the central district of Kalithea, near several hotels to be used by Olympic officials.

A newspaper in the city had received an anonymous telephone warning about 10 minutes before the pre-dawn blasts.

No-one has admitted responsibility for the attack.

Police believe the bombs - each reportedly made from three sticks of dynamite triggered by alarm clocks - were linked to left-wing domestic groups and not international terrorism.


They said they believed the timing of the explosions was staggered in the hope that the second and third bombs would injure police officers arriving at the scene after the first blast.

The BBC's Richard Galpin in Athens says left-wing groups oppose August's Olympic Games, viewing them as a capitalist bonanza, and have protested at Western security services arriving en masse in Greece.

The Greek authorities have sought to play down the significance of the blasts.

"This is an isolated incident which does not affect whatsoever the country's preparations for the safety of the Olympics," Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis told reporters.

"The Greek people's efforts and their close co-operation with the relevant authorities in the European Union, Nato and the United States guarantee the safety of the Athens Olympic Games."

US concern

The Athens Games will be the first summer Olympics since the September 11 2001 attacks in the United States.

Athens has allocated tens of thousands of police officers and army personnel to ensure security at the games.

A city-wide network of surveillance cameras will be in operation, and aerial patrols will take place.

Any bomb that goes off in Athens is worrying
Bob Elphinston
Australian Olympic Committee

A Greek delegation, led by Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis and the head of the Greek police, is currently in Washington for talks on the effort to safeguard the games.

Some US officials have expressed worry that construction delays at Olympic venues could undercut efforts for advance security testing and other measures.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australia's intelligence agencies would reassess the threat of a terrorist attack at the Olympics.

"On the face of it, it doesn't look as though these incidents are too serious but with the Olympic Games coming up we want to be absolutely sure," he said.

A spokeswoman for the International Olympic Committee, Giselle Davies, said no formal approach had been made to the organisation by any national Olympic committee.

"Obviously it's an incident which is not connected with an Olympic venue," she said, adding: "We understand it's a relatively small incident."

But a former British Heritage Minister, David Mellor, told the BBC: "Everyone is on notice now that if determined people want to do something awful in Athens, the place has no serious controls to stop them."

History of attacks

The Greek authorities claimed they had crippled the most dangerous domestic terrorist threat following the convictions last year of 19 members of the November 17 group, blamed for 23 killings and dozens of other attacks since 1975.

HAVE YOUR SAY
The Olympics is the perfect terrorist target
Prashanth Parameswaran, Washington DC

But smaller groups have continued to carry out bombings and arson attacks in Athens and other cities.

In September, bombs damaged a judicial complex in Athens and injured one police officer. The bombings were claimed by a group calling itself Revolutionary Struggle.

Last month, the US state department's annual report on terrorism said the "low-level bombings against an array of perceived establishment and so-called imperialist targets... underscore the lingering nature of left-wing terrorism in Greece".




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Robert Nisbet
"An anonymous tip-off to a newspaper alerted police 10 minutes before the timed blasts"



SEE ALSO:
Athletes to get armed guard
02 May 04  |  Olympics 2004
Olympics to be insured
27 Apr 04  |  Olympics 2004
Athens happy with security
24 Mar 04  |  Olympics 2004
Aussies fear 'soft targets'
18 Apr 04  |  Olympics 2004



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