With political violence and crime rising, Greek police said they have arrested two of four suspects that authorities believe robbed a bank and post office and said they are wanted members of a domestic terrorist group.
The suspects, whose names were not released, were being questioned by a police counterterrorist unit in the northern city of Kozani. The terrorist organization in question is armed anarchist group named Conspiracy Nuclei of Fire, police officials said on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to comment on an ongoing investigation, the Associated Press reported.
The group has claimed a number of bombings, including attacks against the homes of two former ministers and a ministry, although no one was injured. The militant group has also claimed responsibility for a series of mail bombings in 2010 targeting embassies and European officials, including an attempted attack on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office in Berlin.
The four suspects, all in their early 20’s and described by police as “university students,” were arrested shortly after two robberies — of a bank and a post office branch — in the village of Velvendo, near Kozani, on Feb. 1. One was the driver of a getaway van who was waiting for the others in a nearby highway. Police apprehended the driver, but he managed to set fire to the getaway vehicle, which he had disguised to look like an ambulance.
According to local police, seven suspects went to the village, with four of them — in teams of two — breaking into the bank and the post office branches, with two more acting as lookouts and a seventh person posted on the approach to the village.
Although the branches were open, the robbers used sledgehammers to smash their way in through the windows. They left with €175,000 ($240,000) from the bank and about €4,000 ($5,500) from the post office, but were delayed for at least 10 minutes because the bank safe had a delaying mechanism.
When the seven did not find the getaway driver, they stopped a car and hijacked it, along with its occupant. Three of them left with the hijacked car and the other four with a van. The three in the hijacked car were arrested later.
The four in the van are still on the run. Police say the arrested suspects carried three AK-47 assault rifles, a sub-machine gun, a sawed-off shotgun, two pistols and several rounds of ammunition and they were wearing protective body armor.