ATHENS — An explosive device went off outside the Greek parliament in Athens on Saturday, prompting Prime Minister George Papandreou to condemn the attack and vow that “democracy will not be terrorised”.
No one was injured in the blast and no damage was immediately reported, police said.
“This highly symbolic place for Greeks is not guarded and will not be,” said Citizen’s Protection Minister Michalis Chryssohoidis.
“We will not put Athens under a police regime; this is a free and open city.”
Chryssohoidis said he was convinced that the perpetrators of the attack would be “arrested and brought to justice quickly”.
Following the unprecedented attack on the parliament building Papandreou met with close aides at his office there.
“Democracy will not be terrorised,” he said on arrival.
The explosion around 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) was preceded by a telephone call to the Eleftherotypia newspaper warning of the blast.
Police evacuated the area around the site where passers-by normally stroll close to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier guarded by the presidential Evzones guards.
The changing of the guard, famous for its unique kilt-like uniform, is very popular with tourists visiting the Greek capital.
The explosive went off 17 minutes after the phone call, a little less than the time given by the anonymous caller.
The device which was fitted with a timer was hidden in a garbage bin a few metres (yards) from an Evzones sentry box.
Anti-terrorism officers were investigating the attack, the first to target the centre of Greek democracy, which police blamed on extreme-left militants or anarchists.
Greece has been rocked by a string of attacks against economic interests and offices of politicians since a youth was killed by a police officer in December 2008.
In the last such attack, which caused extensive damage to Greece’s largest insurance company Ethniki Asfalistiki, was hit in Athens on December 27.
It was claimed by the anarchist group Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire, which is seen as responsible for dozens of such attacks against offices and homes of political leaders.
In September last year police found a hide-out of the group in an Athens suburb and arrested six suspects.
Another group, Revolutionary Struggle (EA), has been active for the last six years and is blacklisted by the European Union as a terrorist organisation.
EA claimed an attack on the Athens stock exchange in September which caused no injuries.