Anarchist Ambush On Coast Guard Squad Rekindles Exarchia Violence Debate

(AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis, file)

ATHENS – An attack on eight Hellenic Coast Guard officers by some 50 armed people in the anarchist stronghold of Exarchia has renewed criticism that the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA is condoning violence and lawlessness in the Greek capital.

The assault, that saw one officer stabbed in the thigh and service revolvers stolen from them by the mob that was armed with knifes, clubs and AK-47 assault rifles came after the officers ha conducted a drug raid, informing the Greek police only when it was going on.

There are frequent clashes in the neighborhood between anarchists and riot police with residents complaining it has been taken over by anti-establishment groups with the implicit encouragement of the government with elections looming and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras – having surrendered to Capitalist lenders and reneging on anti-austerity vows, falling far behind in surveys to New Democracy, which has blistered him over the violence.

The Conservatives leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that, “No one feels safe anywhere” in Greece while SYRIZA is in power.

“Not only does (the attack] prove once again that Exarchia is a no-go zone, it also confirms the relationship between the so-called anarchists and the dirty narcotics underworld,” he said.

Authorities had earlier been tipped off by a Syrian national whom they had arrested earlier in the car deck of the Blue Star 1 ferry at Piraeus port. He was carrying 200 grams of marijuana at the time and they had gone to Exarchia to arrest his supplier, said Kathimerini.

Accompanied by a prosecutor, a team of eight officers from the Hellenic Coast Guard raided the house on Themistokleous and Eresou streets, where they remanded two women – a Greek Australian and a Syrian national – and confiscated 1.5 kilos of cannabis and a precision scale.

According to some witness reports, the attackers were under the impression that the house was being cleared of squatters, the paper said. The prosecutor was taken away safely.

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,” instead of trying to defend themselves by firing their guns.

A claim by Citizens’ Protection Minister Olga Gerovasili the Greek Police (ELAS) had not been informed about the raid was disputed. She had told radio station News 247 that, “ELAS didn’t go there, it was not informed,” but a police source told the paper it got notice as the raid was going on but not before.

Gerovasili described the notion that there is no political will to fight lawlessness as “foolish.”

“We all know there are problems in Exarchia. The problems of crime and delinquency cannot be solved by pressing a magic button,” she said, without explaining why there the government hasn’t ordered a crackdown in a neighborhood where lawlessness is rampant and uncontrolled.

“But these issues should not be used to score political points whenever somebody decides to play the security card,” she said.