Escaped Greek Terrorists Strike Again

ATHENS – Two terrorists on the loose are wreaking havoc again in Greece, with police reporting one behind bank robberies that netted his gang 15 million euros ($20.8 million) while the other’s DNA was reportedly found on an unexploded parcel bomb sent to a police station.

Police said they have linked fugitive Revolutionary Struggle mastermind Nikos Maziotis to six armed robberies. He and his partner Pola Roupa have been on the lam since June 2012 after being released from the maximum 18-months detention because authorities failed to put them on trial.

Police said believe that a total of seven people are part of the team that Maziotis has put together to rob banks to finance his activities, including the setting off of a car bomb outside a Bank of Athens main branch last month.

Maziotis said he also wanted to show defiance a day before German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country is the biggest contributor to international loans saving the Greek economy but who has demanded big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings, came to Athens to meet Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, a fellow Conservative.

Officers said that in all the robberies believed to have been carried out by the fugitive terrorist and his accomplices, the robbers wore bullet-proof vests and were heavily armed. It is believed that Maziotis shot and injured a policeman outside a bank in Achaia in the Peloponnese in March.

Authorities said the DNA of fugitive November 17 member Christodoulos Xiros, who walked away from a Christmas vacation he was given despite serving six life terms for six assassinations, was discovered on the parcel bomb.

That was  day after another terrorist group, Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire claimed responsibility for the device. It is believed he had met with some of their leaders while in the alleged high-security Korydallos Prison. An investigation into their alleged collaboration has been blocked by the refusal of guards to testify.

According to police, DNA samples taken from the bomb matched the traces found in a car used on January 5 to transport Xiros from Thessaloniki to Athens while he was on prison furlough. Police said they fear he is linking up with other terrorists and that a number of the country’s disparate guerrilla organizations might now band together.

The explosive device sent to Itea police precinct was hidden inside a book and contained nails and screws to cause maximum damage if set off. It was sent in a package supposed from a non-governmental organization.

In its message, the Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire said that it was disappointed the bomb did not go off. “We will be back,” the group said.