ATHENS – A gang of some 50 heavily-armed attackers who ambushed eight Coast Guard officers conducting a drug raid in the notorious anarchist neighborhood of Exarchia reportedly posed as police to catch the victims off guard.
Officials told Kathimerini that criminals commonly disguise themselves as cops after reporting that the assault occurred because the attackers apparently thought the raid was to remove squatters, with anarchists taking over abandoned buildings and said to be working with drug dealers.
The attackers had clubs, knives, pistols and Kalashnikov assault rifles and managed to free a woman that had been arrested in the raid, a Greek-Australian, who later was caught up in a police raid on another squat during which 90 people were taken into custody.
The paper said it was told by sources it wouldn’t identify that the Coast Guard officers were confronted by the the attackers who cried out, “Police, freeze,” and aimed guns at them.
The officers responded by showing their IDs while another called out to the attackers, “We are colleagues.” It was only when one of the armed men placed his pistol to the temple of one of the officers that it became apparent they were not police.
The same sources told the paper the attackers used police strategy and tactics to further confuse the Coast Guard squad and that they wore bullet-proof vests and other garb and insignia used by police.
The man who pulled the gun on the Coast Guard officers spoke Greek, it was reported and that the assailants then got away in cars but the incident has sparked a row with the police – who were not informed of the raid until it was underway – and senior police officers told the paper they don’t believe the testimony of the officers.
Some 200 Exarchia residents and shopkeepers held a demonstration to protest against the rising crime rate, violence and drug dealing in the area with the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accused of condoning the trouble in a bid to re-establish Leftist credentials after he repeatedly reneged on anti-austerity promises and buried workers, pensioners and the poor with brutal measures.