Gunfire Hits PASOK Headquarters

ATHENS – An election-even gunfire attack on the headquarters of the PASOK Socialists, a member of the ruling coalition headed by the New Democracy Conservatives, shattered windows with two bullets, police said.

The office is guarded 24 hours a day by riot police, especially in the wake of escaped terrorists having already carried out bombings and vowing a return to violence.

Authorities said the attack came the night before the May 25 voting for the European Parliament and local municipalities, races that had been hotly contested between New Democracy and the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) while PASOK was far out of the running.

Greece’s anti-terrorism squad was investigating, police said, according to the Reuters news agency. The elections were seen as a referendum on the government’s handling of a crushing economic crisis and backing of continued austerity measures opposed by SYRIZA.

The PASOK offices are in a busy and popular neighborhood packed with bars and cafes. “Two office windows on the second and third floor have been hit by a firearm. The anti-terrorism unit has taken over the investigation,” Greek police said in text message to journalists, without giving further details.

Police cordoned off the area and more than two dozen riot policemen were at the scene on May 25.

“There is no way we will be terrorized,” PASOK lawmaker Odyseas Konstantinopoulos, the party’s spokesman, told Reuters. PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos is serving as Samaras’ Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister but had to attach the party to the new center-left political movement Elia, Olive Tree, after the Socialists fell as low as 3 percent in polls.

PASOK backs Samaras’ conservative New Democracy party in a coalition that has enforced big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings in return for two bailouts of 240 billion euros ($327 billion) from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).

New Democracy offices had been hit previously by gunfire as well, with a bullet piercing the window of Samaras’ office. A terrorist group claimed responsibility.