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The BBC's David Shukman
"The gunman launched their attack in the busiest street of Athens"
 real 28k

David Madden, British Ambassador in Athens
"Shock, horror and disbelief"
 real 28k

Constantine Bitsos Greek Charge d'Affairs in London
"Terrorism is not a Greek phenomenon"
 real 28k

Thursday, 8 June, 2000, 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
Murdered diplomat had NI links
Car
The shooting took place close to the diplomatic quarter
A senior British diplomat assassinated in Greece was married to a woman from Northern Ireland.

Military attache Brigadier Stephen Saunders was fatally injured when he was shot in his car in Athens.


Brigadier Stephen Saunders
Brigadier Saunders was shot four times
Brigadier Saunders aged 53, who had two daughters aged 15 and 14, had served in Northern Ireland between December 1981 and January 1984.

After that he was a deputy commander at the Northern Ireland headquarters of the 8th Infantry Brigade.

Greek police are now virtually certain the killing, by two gunmen on a motorcycle, was carried out by left-wing guerilla group November 17.

Ballistic tests revealed that the gun used had been used by the group in past attacks.

November 17 has killed 23 people, including Brigadier Saunders, since it first appeared in 1975. None of its members have been caught.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair described the killing as an act of terrorism which was contemptible as well as senseless.



The act is not only condemned by the Greek Government but by all the Greek people

Greek FM George Papandreou
"[Brigadier Saunders] was a consummate professional who had served his country with distinction both at home and overseas.

"His murder is a reminder of the risks that British military personnel face in many places around the world," he added.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said he was "shocked" by the shooting.


Greek Police
Police gather evidence close to the scene of the shooting
"I am in touch with the Greek authorities and am offering them our full co-operation in making sure that whoever perpetrated this brutal attack is brought to justice," he said.

The two gunmen opened fire on Brigadier Saunders around 0800 (0500 GMT) as the British official drove a white Rover belonging to the embassy along Kifissias avenue in a northern suburb.

It appears that the car the Brigadier was driving was not bullet proofed.

Brigadier Saunders suffered four gunshot wounds to the abdomen, the hospital said.

Guerrillas suspected

The gunmen fled and there has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.


November 17 group
Founded in 1975
Roots in resistance to former junta
Anti-capitalist
Opposes Greek links with West
Has admitted to 21 killings
"The method used, the weapon used, lead us to believe that the assailants belong to November 17, that is the direction we are looking in," said Dimitris Efsthathiadis, a senior official in the Ministry for Public Order.

Police said they found four spent cartridges at the scene from a .45-calibre pistol, the weapon used by the November 17 group in about 20 assassinations attributed to the group since 1975.

Shadowy group
Brigadier Stephen Saunders
Born: Farnborough, Hants in 1947
Married to Heather
Daughters: Nicola, 15 and Catherine, 14
1965: Joined army
1967: Commissioned into Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment
1968-71: Read geography and economics at Bristol University
1986: Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, serving in N.Ireland, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Kuwait
1999: Promoted to Brigadier and appointed defence attache to the British Embassy in Athens

The November 17 group targets western officials and economic targets. Its first victim, in 1975, was the CIA station chief in Athens.

None of its members has ever been arrested and convicted.

The US State Department has recently criticised the Greek authorities for failing to stop terrorist attacks.

Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou has condemned the attack and pledged that his government would combat terrorism relentlessly.

"I want to condemn this terrorist act. The act is not only condemned by the Greek government but by all the Greek people," he said.

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