- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

ATHENS, GREECE (AP) - A bomb blast in central Athens damaged a government real estate agency Thursday, police said. No injuries were reported.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell on far-left militant groups that have stepped up bombings and shooting attacks in recent weeks.

The blast occurred at 9:30 p.m. (1930 GMT, 3:30 p.m. EST), near a busy road where the police headquarters and the Supreme Court buildings are located.

Police said the explosives had been placed in a plastic bag tied to a pole near the entrance of the real estate agency.

“The type of explosive device that was used is not yet known,” police spokesman Panayiotis Stathis said. “Evidence is still being gathered.”

Greek authorities have faced an upsurge in violence by domestic militant groups in the wake of major riots in December, sparked by the police’s fatal shooting of a teenager.

Hellenic Public Real Estate Corp., which was targeted in the attack, handles government property assets and is supervised by the Finance Ministry. The explosion damaged the entrance of the building, a parked car and a nearby store, authorities said, Stathis said.

Police cordoned off the area, while bomb disposal experts and anti-terrorism officers examined evidence at the scene.

Domestic terrorist groups, in recent statements to newspapers, have vowed to continue bombings, which in the past have mostly targeted banks and government agencies.

One far-left group, Revolutionary Struggle, bombed a Citibank branch in Athens on March 9 and tried to carry out a car bomb attack Feb. 18 on Citibank offices in Athens but failed.

In a statement, it said those incidents were in response to the role played by lenders in the international financial crisis.

Revolutionary Struggle has carried out more than a dozen bombings and shootings since 2003, including the firing of a rocket-propelled grenade into the U.S. Embassy in Athens in 2007.

Greece’s conservative government has promised to reorganize parts of the police following the militant bombings and ongoing violence by local anarchist groups. It is receiving advice from London police.

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