Bomb blast at Athens headquarters of Skai media group

A man looks out from a broken window after a bomb blast outside the Greek Skai TV building in Athens. (Reuters)
Updated 17 December 2018
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Bomb blast at Athens headquarters of Skai media group

  • Attacks targeting broadcasting groups, public companies or embassies have been frequent in Greece in recent years
  • The coalition government led by leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras condemned the blast as an attack on democracy

ATHENS: A bomb blast early Monday damaged a building in Athens housing the headquarters of Greece’s private radio and television network Skai, but there were no casualties, police said.
Anti-terrorist police opened an investigation into the attack that focused on Greek extremist groups.
Attacks targeting broadcasting groups, public companies or embassies have been frequent in Greece in recent years, and have been blamed on anarchist or far-left groups.
The coalition government led by leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras condemned the blast as “an attack on democracy” while his administration decried an act of “terrorism.”
In a statement, Tsipras slammed what he termed “an attack on democracy by cowardly and dark forces,” vowing that “they will not realize their goal of terrorizing and disorientating.”
He further offered his “sincere support to journalists and all those who work at the station” targeted.
The homemade device went off at around 2:30am (0030 GMT), 45 minutes after an anonymous telephone warning to another TV network.
Police cordoned off the neighborhood in the Athens suburb of Neo Phaliro and evacuated the building, which contains the offices of Skai, a group owned by the Alafouzos shipping family, as well as those of Kathimerini, a center-right daily critical of the government.
Police said the bomb was placed in a narrow street near a fence around the building and smashed windows on the facade.
Skai said in a statement the blast caused “major damage.”
“The terrorist attack will not discourage us,” it said, accusing the government of failing to do enough to protect the media despite “recurrent threats against the station.”
Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos rejected the accusation.
The minister for civil protection, Olga Gerovassili, visited the site with police.
“Democracy is not threatened,” she said, while warning against those who “leave the way open to terrorism or fascism.”
There were no claims of responsibility by late afternoon but some analysts said the bombing bore the hallmarks of an attack by the far left Popular Fighters Group (OLA).
It has previously claimed to be behind at least five other similar blasts, none causing fatalities, since its formation in 2013.
The group last claimed a bombing outside the Athens Court of Appeal in December 2017, which caused extensive material damage.
Last month, police defused a bomb outside the Athens home of a controversial prosecutor following two anonymous telephoned warnings to the media.


Australia summons Turkish envoy over ‘offensive’ Erdogan comments

Updated 11 min 6 sec ago
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Australia summons Turkish envoy over ‘offensive’ Erdogan comments

SYDNEY: Australia’s prime minister said he would summon Turkey’s ambassador in Canberra on Wednesday to explain “very offensive” comments made by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of the Christchurch massacre.
Erdogan, while campaigning for local elections, presented the attack as part of an assault on Turkey and Islam and warned anti-Muslim Australians would suffer the same fate as soldiers at Gallipoli, a blood-drenched WWI battle.
“I find it a very offensive comment, of course I do, and I will be calling in the Turkish ambassador today to meet with me to discuss these issues,” Scott Morrison told national broadcaster ABC.
Erdogan had already been sharply rebuked by New Zealand for his comments and for using gruesome video shot by the Christchurch mosque gunman as an election campaign prop.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters protested on Monday that such politicization of the massacre “imperils the future and safety of the New Zealand people and our people abroad, and it’s totally unfair.”
Peters announced on Tuesday that he would be traveling to Turkey this week at Istanbul’s request to attend a special meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Three Turkish nationals were wounded in the rampage that killed 50 worshippers at two mosques in the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday.
The accused gunman, a self-avowed white supremacist from Australia, livestreamed much of the attack and spread a manifesto on social media claiming it was a strike against Muslim “invaders.”
The manifesto references Turkey and the minarets of Istanbul’s famed Hagia Sophia, now a museum, that was once a church before becoming a mosque during the Ottoman empire.
“This is not an isolated event, it is something more organized,” he said during a campaign event on Monday in Canakkale in western Turkey.
“They are testing us with the message they are sending us from New Zealand, 16,500 km (10,250 miles) from here.”
Erdogan did not project the video at the Monday event.
Peters said he had complained directly to visiting Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.