ATHENS – The Hellenic Police (ELAS) said they were not told the Coast Guard would conduct a drug raid in the notorious anarchist haven of Exarchia in the Greek capital, an incident that left two officers injured in an ambush by masked men.
Citizens’ Protection Minister Olga Gerovasili reportedly told radio station News247 that, “ELAS didn’t go there, it was not informed,” she reportedly told radio station News247.
“We all know there are problems in Exarchia. The problems of crime and delinquency can not be solved by pressing a magic button,” she said.
“But these issues should not be used to score political points whenever somebody decides to play the security card,” without mentioning the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA has been accused of condoning violent incidents in the capital and Mayor Giorgis Kaminis saying some areas had been allowed to descend into lawlessness.
Critics said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras doesn’t want to crack down so that he can try to reestablish credentials with far-left elements after he surrendered to capitalists and bankers as part of international creditors who made him renege on anti-austerity vows.
Coast Guard officials were attacked by around 50 black-clad men, armed with clubs, knives and even AK-47 assault rifles after completing a drug-related raid in a house in Exarchia, reports said.
One officer was injured on the thigh with a knife and another was kicked and punched. They were both transferred to the Athens’s Navy Hospital where they remain for treatment.
The Panhellenic Federation of Coast Guard Personnel Associations, described the raid as “a common case” which almost turned into a “battle,” with no explanation why it was the Coast Guard and not police conducting the raid.
“An otherwise common case of detecting and arresting alleged drug traffickers almost evolved into an urban battle, with unpredictable consequences and dimensions,” the federation said, adding the operation lasted less than 10 minutes.
Authorities had been tipped by an Iraqi national whom they had arrested earlier in Piraeus with 200 grams of cannabis and were looking for his supplier, said Kathimerini.
A team of eight officers from Piraeus’s security division, accompanied by a prosecutor, raided a house on Themistokleous and Eresou streets, where they remanded two women and confiscated 1.5 kilos of cannabis and a precision scale, the paper said.
As they were exiting the building they were ambushed by men in black overalls, hoods and helmets, and well-armed. The prosecutor was safely evacuated, but one officer was injured on the thigh with a knife and another was kicked and punched.
The attackers also stole the guns from the two officers while one of the women who had been detained fled. The Coast Guard said in a press release its officers “showed restraint” and did not use their weapons to avoid “an all-out clash with unpredictable results.
Exarchia is the scene of frequent clashes between anarchists and riot police who also have to protect SYRIZA minister Alekos Flambouraris who lives there. While the party is riddled with anarchist and terrorist sympathizers, even SYRIZA headquarters have been attacked as Tsipras is seen by hard-core elements as betraying their cause and his platform.