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Greek Police See Foreign Gangs Behind Deadly Omonia Shooting

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Omonia Square in Athens. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Giannis Panagopoulos)

ATHENS - With a renovation of the grimy major Omonia Square set to be revealed this month as authorities want to put a new face on it, Greek police said the deadly shooting of a 23-year-old Afghan man and stabbing of another shows foreign gangs battling for turf.

The violence led to a sweep of an area where tourists lured by new hotels commingle with drug dealers, prostitutes, sellers of counterfeit goods and waves of refugees and migrants hiding in plain sight, with police detaining 130 people.

According to eyewitnesses, said Kathimerini, some 30 men armed with guns and knives attacked a group of peddlers selling contraband cigarettes on the corner of Menandrou and Sapphous streets near Omonia Square.

Reports also indicated the attackers demanded money from the vendors to “allow” them to sell their wares on that corner, akin to drug dealers in big US cities doing the same or pushing away rivals with violence.

Police found the two Afghan men lying on the ground, while the other victims and attackers had fled the area where thousands of foreigners congregate openly. Police followed up with raids that led to 13 people being questioned and said they found 13 shell casings.

scattered. Subsequent raids in the area have led to 13 people being taken in for questioning, while 13 shell casings were found at the scene.

Investigators believe the incident is also linked to the illegal trade in drugs and forged documents, the paper said, common problems with gangs roaming the area at the same time authorities are allegedly trying to clean it up.