UPD: Bomb explodes at Athens Mall – 2 security guards slightly injured

Posted by in Politics

A bomb exploded short before 11 a.m. inside the Athens Mall in Maroussi, suburb of northern Athens. According to Greek media, two security guards were slightly injured and taken to nearby hospital. Prior to the explosion two warning calls went to a newspaper and a news portal. Athens Mall is open on Sundays with people visiting coffee shops, restaurants, movie theaters and other entertainment facilities.

Controversial information speak of the bomb to have been placed behind a newspaper stand at the parking of the Mall, while other media speak of the explosion to have occurred at the first floor of the building.

The explosion occurred at 10:50 a.m at the first floor of the Mall.  According to first information the explosive device was placed at the first floor of the building where shops and one bank branch are located. The explosion caused big material damage.

Fifty minutes before the explosion a newspaper and a news portal received two warning phone calls by unknown persons.

At 9:50 a.m. a person called at Eleftherotypia newspaper warned that a bomb would explode in 50 minutes, while the second phone call was made three minutes later to news portal zougla.gr

The person did not mention any organization but said that “a responsibility claim” would follow.
 
Right after the phone calls, strong police forces and the security guards private company started to evacuate the Mall.
 
The explosion occurred during the evacuation, however after the people had exited the Mall and only policemen and security guards were inside. 
 
According to police, the explosive device was not of very powerful.
 
For security reasons police closed down “Neratziotissa” station of urban train ISAP (HSAP), the wagons operate from/to Piraeus up to “Eirini” station. 
 (in.gr)
In recent days, the Greek capital has witnessed a series of attacks with explosive devices against political parties offices and banks ATMs, while an attack with weapons occurred against the headquarters of Greece’s governing party Nea Dimocratia.
 
Minister for Citizen Protection and Public Order, Nikos Dendias, had told Kathimerini newspaper on Friday that they were expected a “bigger attack” to occur.
 
12:09  
-The explosion occurred inside the Mall at the first floor.
-Some 200 people were evacuated.
-Police considers the attack as of “high risk” as civilians were inside the building.
-The bomb was placed under the stairs near a bank branch.
-Police is searching for a possible second device.
-Proastiakos train does not operate between “Metamorfosi” and “Doukissis Plakentias”.
-Athens Metro is on 24-hour strike.
(state broadcaster NET TV)
 
12:48
- Explosion occurred at 10:40 a.m. in the first level of the Mall above the parking area.
-The explosive device was most likely placed inside a garbage bin outside a closed shop. Some eye witnesses speak of the explosion to have occurred outside a branch of National Bank.
- The two security guards -currently in hospital – are slightly injured and are expected to be released form hospital later today. They were apparently injured by broken glasses from shops windows. (NET TV)
 
14:14
No organization has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.
 
Government officials underline the fact that the attack occurred in a place where also small children were.
 
Even thought the shops were close don Sunday, many people, especially families with children visit the Athens Mall to enjoy entertainment in several movie theaters, coffee shops and restaurants.
 
22:00
 
Citing police information, Greek media report that the bomb was hidden in a pressure cooker inside a plastic bag  and was left in a rubbish bin outside a cosmetics shop and a branch of National Bank, both closed because of Sunday. 
 
The bomb contained about 1.5 kilos of gelatinous dynamite and a mixture of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, known as ANFO.
 
It has not been clear yet whether the bomb explosion was caused via a time clock.
 
Based on findings and the art of explosives used, police allegedly believes to see links to “Conspiracy of Cells of Fire”, a terror organization with many members currently in prison.
 
Police investigates also material from security cameras at the Athens Mall, Attiki Odos highway, the adjacent urban train station “Neratziotissa”.
 
“A camera showed two persons, probably male, placing a bag in the rubbish bin about half an hour before the warning call to the newspaper and then leaving the site, police said.”, according to Reuters
 
Prior to the explosion two warning calls went to newspaper Eleftherotypia and website zougla.gr. In one of the phone calls at 9:58 a.m., the unknown person said:
 
“An explosive has been places inside, I repeat, inside the Mall. Train station “Neratsiotissa” and Andreas Papandreou Avenue  should be evacuated. the state should be evacuated. This is not a farce, a statement on responsibility claim will follow.” (zougla.gr)
 
Police investigation has been reportedly concluded at 10:30 p.m. Athens Mall opened its gates ot the public again and Papandreou Avenue was opened to traffic.
 
The two security guards slightly injured by collapsed plaster boards were discharged from the hospital on Sunday afternoon.
 
There are some estimations that the perpetrators did not want any victims and website Zougla citing police sources reports that the warning calls 50 minutes before the attack, gave enough time for evacuation of employees and visitors.
 
In a statement Greek police seeks any information by citizens who may know something about the attack. 
Citizens should call phone numbers <170>, <1014> and <1964> at the Directorate of Special Crimes of Violence.
All political parties condemned the attack.

All major political parties condemned the attack, the first to cause injuries in several years.

“We are dealing with a new type of terrorism that not only picks symbolic targets but wants blood and death,” the co-ruling Socialist PASOK party said in a statement.

The country’s public order ministry urged the political class to work together to end the violence.

“It is not enough to verbally condemn the incident, there must be an absolute isolation of violence and terrorism by the political system. The message is our democracy cannot be terrorized,” it said in a statement.

The government has said in the past Syriza, the radical leftist main opposition party, tacitly backs anti-establishment groups. Syriza, which condemned Sunday’s attack, denies this.

So far no organizatin claimed responsibility for the attack.