- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

ATHENS, GREECE (AP) - Greece’s government promised Monday to reorganize parts of its police force following major riots in December and a spate of attacks by far-left militant groups.

The government gave few details but said changes would include creating a rapid-response force for central Athens to deal with incidents like Friday’s anarchist attacks on stores.

Greek police will also be getting help from London’s Metropolitan Police force, which confirmed the report but gave no further details.

Greece’s conservative government has been plagued by law enforcement problems since police fatally shot a teenage boy in December, sparking riots across Greece. The violence left hundreds of stores damaged and looted in Athens and other cities.

Since the riots, far-left militant groups have also intensified bombings and shooting attacks, targeting police, banks and a television station.

The spike in violence has embarrassed Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’ government, which has been criticized for ineffective policing. Authorities also fear further potential unrest fueled by hardships created by the international financial crisis.

On Friday, dozens of youths carrying sledgehammers and iron bars smashed cars, banks and storefronts in an upscale district of central Athens. Nearly 60 stores were damaged in the daylight attack by youths who identified themselves as anarchists.

“Police are reorganizing their response to deal with the new circumstances that exist,” government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said. “This includes the types of activity carried out by a very small minority _ actions that are condemned by an overwhelming majority of the public.”

British police experts have helped their Greek colleagues in the past, ahead of the 2004 Olympics in Athens and with breaking up the domestic terror group November 17, which had evaded arrest for nearly 30 years.



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