The detonation of a bomb at the Athens Mall, the country’s largest shopping center may have been the work of at least four people and has raised fears that terrorism is escalating in the wake of more austerity measures being imposed and a government crackdown on the use of abandoned buildings by Leftist and Anarchist groups believed to be staging areas to carry out violence, authorities said.
Greek police said that CCTV footage from The Mall in Maroussi suggests that the bomb attack was well-coordinated. According to reports, officers have identified four people wearing hoods or baseball caps who are thought to have left the bomb in a newspaper stand. Police believe that as many as eight people in total may have taken part in the attack.
Remnants of a pressure cooker were found in the wreckage created by the bomb, which is thought to have contained ammonium nitrate and fuel oil (ANFO) and gelignite. The urban guerrilla group Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire has carried out attacks using pressure cookers to construct explosive devices in the past but authorities are not making any direct connections at this point. Last year, a bomb was found on a subway car that was not in service but was removed before it could go off.
The major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party that is vehemently opposed to the pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions being imposed on the orders of international lenders said the government is trying to distract attention from austerity and growing scandals, including the so-called Lagarde List of 2,062 Greeks with $1.95 billion in secret Swiss bank accounts that still haven’t been checked for possible tax evasion.
“The government is entering a period of new internal instability with the Lagarde list scandal,” SYRIZA spokesman Yiannis Bournous said. “That’s exactly the reason why they chose to organize these raids, to divert people’s attention.” The government denies that accusation, and has accused SYRIZA of sympathizing with leftist radicals.
“The question should not be why are we suddenly moving now,” said a senior official with knowledge of the government’s strategy, who spoke to the newspaper Kathimerini on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. “It’s why past governments have not stopped lawlessness from spreading.”