Explosion at Athens Shopping Center Injures Two People

An explosion at a shopping center in the northern Athens suburb of Marousi today was an attack on democracy and was designed to threaten Greece’s economic recovery, the country’s Public Order ministry said.

The improvised explosive device “didn’t only target a specific building, it targeted democratic normality, social peace and the prospect for economic recovery in our country,” the ministry said in a statement posted on its website. “Our democracy is neither daunted nor bullied.”

The blast was on the first floor of “The Mall Athens” complex where there were only a small number of people at the time as stores are closed on Sundays, the management of the center, whose main shareholders are Lamda Development SA and HSBC Property Investments Ltd., said in an e-mailed statement today.

Management evacuated people from all areas within six minutes of receiving notice from the police, according to the statement. Two members of the mall’s security service were slightly injured and shops suffered limited material damage in the low-density blast, management said.

The explosion at the mall, where only cafes, restaurants and cinemas were operating, occurred at 10.45 a.m. local time, state-run NET TV reported. An unidentified person made a warning call to the Eleftherotipia newspaper and the Zougla news website around 50 minutes before the explosion, it said.

Police cordoned off the area, after around 200 people were evacuated, and are searching for other explosive devices, Marousi mayor Yiorgos Patoulis said in comments broadcast live on NET.

Terrorist Attack

Both Eleftherotipia and Zougla confirmed on their websites that they had received the warning call. The explosive device was made from gas cannisters and placed in a box under a stairway near a bank branch, NET said, citing police. The caller said a claim of responsibility for the explosion will be made, according to Zougla.

Greek police had information of an imminent terrorist attack in the country since November, Kathimerini newspaper reported today, citing Public Order Minister Nikolaos Dendias.

A gunman fired shots at the headquarters of the ruling New Democracy party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Jan. 14. That incident followed a spate of attacks on the homes of Greek journalists on Jan. 11 and the home of the brother of the Greek government spokesman the following day.

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