Three people were injured early on Saturday afternoon when a group of self-styled anarchists hurled firebombs at a police station in the central Athens neighborhood of Exarchia while dozens of locals had been shopping at a nearby street market.
A 55-year-old woman was hospitalized with moderate burns to her face and body and two men received brief treatment for scratches and breathing problems before being discharged from the city’s Gennimata Hospital.
Three parked cars, including a police patrol vehicle, were destroyed in a hail of Molotov cocktails, thrown by a group of around 30 youths, according to witnesses.
Two men on a motorcycle gave chase as the youths retreated but one of the assailants retaliated with another firebomb which caused the bike to explode. The two men emerged from the explosion relatively unscathed, with respiratory problems, but a 55-year-old woman, believed to be a vendor at the market, suffered burns.
Police said they had taken in five youths for questioning.
Officers did not suggest a suspected motive for the attack but there was media speculation that it was a botched revenge against police following the brutal beating by riot officers of a 30-year-old demonstrator on Wednesday.
In a statement, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), which has been accused by the government of fostering links with anarchists, said that the attack in Exarchia was reprehensible and «entirely unconnected to the popular anti-austerity movement.» The Communist Party said that the attack «offered fertile ground to those who want to justify and boost [police] repression and keep the people living in fear.»
It is not uncommon for police stations, particularly in the anarchist stronghold of Exarchia, to be firebombed but the hits are usually late-night or predawn attacks that cause restricted damage and no injuries.