European embassies under siege from parcel-bombs


November 04
ALMOST a dozen parcel-bombs addressed to European leaders and embassies have been found in three European cities.

The wave of attacks was blamed on domestic leftist extremists.

Small mail bombs exploded outside the Russian and Swiss embassies in Athens yesterday and police destroyed several more, while a bomb made it to Angela Merkel’s Berlin office, and Bologna airport in northern Italy was closed for hours after a bomb addressed to Silvio Berlusconi caught fire.

No link has been made with the recently discovered Yemen-based mail-bomb plot, which used more powerful devices. No group claimed responsibility for the attacks, which caused no injuries. No warning was given.

The attacks began on Monday, European time, when a mail-bomb addressed to the Mexican embassy in Athens exploded at a delivery service, wounding one worker. Authorities searched surrounding streets and arrested two suspects shortly after the blast. They were carrying mail-bombs addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Belgian embassy, along with handguns and bullets in waist pouches. Both wore body armour.

Police detonated the bombs along with a fourth device found at a delivery company and addressed to the Dutch embassy.

One of the suspects was wanted in connection with an investigation into a radical anarchist group known as Conspiracy Nuclei of Fire, which has claimed a spate of small bomb and arson attacks over the past two years.

The explosions continued the next day with the detonation of a bomb in the courtyard outside a six-storey building that is home to the Swiss embassy. Soon after, a courier heading for another embassy became suspicious about a package and stopped at parliament, where police explosives experts detonated a bomb.

Police then found explosive devices at the Bulgarian embassy and a central Athens courier company, where the German embassy had returned a suspicious package, and set them off in controlled explosions.

A fifth bomb went off on the grounds of the Russian embassy.

The Bologna package was discovered on a TNT courier flight that had been diverted to the airport. News of the Athens bombs had led TNT to step up checks of its cargo and it became aware of a suspicious package addressed to the Italian Prime Minister on a flight to Paris.

The company called the pilot to land as soon as possible. The plane touched down at Bologna soon after 0800 AEDT and was made to park far away from the terminal, which was closed. The plane was unloaded and the package discovered. It weighed 2kg and was addressed to Mr Berlusconi at his official residence, the Palazzo Chigi-Roma. It ignited and caught fire as experts began opening it, but no one was hurt. The remains were taken for analysis. The parcel for the German Chancellor was delivered to her offices by the UPS courier company and discovered by staff. It had been posted from Greece two days earlier and “could have caused not insignificant damage”, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.

A “Greek organisation belonging to the anti-establishment movement” was probably behind the attempted attacks, Athens police spokesman Thanassis Kokkalakis said. Greek authorities halted all mail to foreign destinations for 48 hours.

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