Monday, December 30, 2013

Greece: Assailants Spray German Ambassador's Residence with AK-47 Gunfire, No Injuries Reported

According to Reuters, unidentified assailants opened fire on the German ambassador's residence in Athens with an AK-47 assault rifle on Monday (December 30). No injuries were reported.

Police said about 60 shots were fired at the high-security residence on a busy street of a northern suburb. At least four bullets were lodged in the walls of the house and four hit the metal gate of its perimeter.

Anti-German sentiment has grown during Greece's prolonged economic crisis and many of those struggling with record unemployment and falling living standards blame Germany's insistence on fiscal rigor for their economic woes.

Germany is the biggest single contributing nation to Greece's 240-billion-euro bailouts which have kept the country afloat since 2010 and saved it from bankruptcy. Germany has at least 15 billion euros ($20.67 billion) of bilateral loans extended to Greece as part of the bailout.

COMMENT: No one has claimed responsibility for the 0340 hours attack which police believe was carried out by members of leftist guerrilla groups. The Hellenic National Police, unfortunately, did not explain why they blamed leftist guerrillas considering it was the police that insisted that November 17 had been neutralized just before the 2004 Summer Olympics.

The residence was the target of an attack in 1999 when members of the now dismantled extremist group, November 17, fired a rocket-propelled grenade that hit its roof.

Pictures lampooning German Chancellor Angel Merkel are commonplace in Athens while groups opposing Greece's bailout frequently protest outside the German Embassy. Public sector workers pelted a German diplomat with water bottles and coffee in a protest over austerity measures last year.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras telephoned Merkel after the incident and Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said it was a "cowardly terrorist act" which targeted Greece's image.

With a reputation for being Europe's problem child, Greece takes over the European Union presidency for six months from January 1.