Greek Navy, Anti-Terrorist Teams Hunt for Stolen Weapons

Αssociated Press

(AP Photo/Michael Svarnias, file)

ATHENS – Worried that heavy-duty weapons stolen from a naval base on the southeastern island of Leros near Turkey might have been taken by terrorist groups or foreign special forces, Greek counter-terror teams are trying to hunt down the perpetrators and find the missing goods.

The Hellenic Navy is also investigating after reports anti-tank missiles, ammunition and hand grenades were taken with no evidence of a break-in, said Kathimerini, suggesting an inside job or the work of elite groups with special training.

Counterterrorism officers were on the island within hours of the navy’s announcement of the missing weapons, discovered after a routine inspection and inventory of the area where they were kept.

Sources who weren't identified said that foreign intelligence services are contributing to the Greek authorities’ investigation with special attention to the island's location near Turkey, which ramped up provocations in the Aegean, seen as testing the new New Democracy government.

Greek officials believe that the perpetrators have an understanding of special forces operations because taking and transporting the equipment, which is bulky and heavy, would not have been easy and would have required specialist knowledge, the paper said.

Police experts are examining security camera footage but have yet to find any clues or leads to the perpetrators but the last inventory was taken on Dec. 31, 2018 which means the theft could have taken place months ago when the Radical Left SYRIZA was in power.

Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said he had given orders for the probe into the disappearance to be exhaustive and for zero tolerance to be shown to the perpetrators when they are found.

Military facilities across the country have now carried out inspections to ensure that no other equipment is missing. In a previous case on Leros two years ago, authorities had investigated the theft of 280,000 tons of oil that had been destined for use by the navy.