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.


‘Mother of Satan’ bombs show foreign hand in Sri Lanka bombings: investigators

Updated 17 min 37 sec ago
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‘Mother of Satan’ bombs show foreign hand in Sri Lanka bombings: investigators

  • Detectives said the back-pack bombs used in the April 21 attacks on three churches and three hotels were manufactured by local militants with Daesh expertise
  • It was also used in the 2015 attacks in Paris, by a suicide bomber who hit the Manchester Arena in England in 2017 and attacks on churches in Indonesia one year ago

COLOMBO: One month after the Sri Lanka suicide attacks that killed more than 250 people, investigators have told AFP the bombers used “Mother of Satan” explosives favored by the Daesh group that are a new sign of foreign involvement.
Detectives said the back-pack bombs used in the April 21 attacks on three churches and three hotels were manufactured by local militants with Daesh expertise.
They named the explosive as triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, an unstable but easily made mixture favored by Daesh militants who call it “Mother of Satan.”
It was also used in the 2015 attacks in Paris, by a suicide bomber who hit the Manchester Arena in England in 2017 and attacks on churches in Indonesia one year ago.
Daesh has claimed the Sri Lankan bombers operated as part of its franchise. But Sri Lankan and international investigators are anxious to know just how much outside help went into the attacks that left 258 dead and 500 injured.
“The group had easy access to chemicals and fertilizer to get the raw materials to make TATP,” an official involved in the investigation told AFP.
Sri Lankan detectives say the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), local militants blamed for the attacks, must have had foreign help to assemble the bombs.

“They would have had a face-to-face meeting to transfer this technology. This is not something you can do by watching a YouTube video,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Investigators had initially believed that C4 explosives — a favored weapon of Tamil Tiger rebels — were used, but forensic tests found TATP which causes more burning than C4.
Police have also confirmed that 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of explosives found in January in the island’s northwest was TATP.
They are checking the travel records of the suicide bombers as well as foreign suspects to see when and where bomb-making lessons could have been staged.
“It looks like they used a cocktail of TATP and gelignite and some chemicals in the Easter attacks. They were short of the 100 kilos of raw TATP that were seized in January,” said the investigator.
Sri Lankan security forces have staged a series of raids since the bombings. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said Sunday that 89 suspects are in custody.
Army chief Mahesh Senanayake said last week that at least two suspects have been arrested in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, underscoring the international link.
On April 26, six militants, three widows of the suicide bombers and six of their children were killed at an NTJ safe house near the eastern coastal town of Kalmunai.
Police found large quantities of chemicals and fertilizer there that was probably meant to make bombs, authorities said.
The government has admitted that Indian warnings of the looming attacks in early April were ignored.
But President Maithripala Sirisena has said eight countries are helping the investigation. A US Federal Bureau of Investigation team is in Sri Lanka and Britain, Australia and India have provided forensic and technical support.
China offered a fleet of vehicles to bolster the mobility of the security forces tracking down militants.

The Sri Lankan who led the attacks, Zahran Hashim, was known to have traveled to India in the months before he became one of the suicide bombers.
Moderate Muslims had warned authorities about the radical cleric who first set off alarm bells in 2017 when he threatened non-Muslims.
He was one of two bombers who killed dozens of victims at Colombo’s Shangri-La hotel on April 21.
Army chief Senanayake said Hashim had traveled to Tamil Nadu state in southern India and been in contact with extremists there.
Hashim, one of seven bombers who staged the attacks, also appeared in an Daesh group video that claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Another bomber who was meant to have hit a fourth hotel, has been named as Abdul Latheef Jameel who studied aviation engineering in Britain and Australia.
Authorities in the two countries are investigating whether he was radicalized whilst abroad.
Jameel blew himself up when confronted at a hideout after the attacks.