The Attack (according to greek media reports citing police sources):

  • At approximately 3.30 this morning (30th of December), four attackers opened fire on the residence of the German ambassador to Greece, Wolfgang Dold, in the Athens neighborhood of Halandri.
  • More than sixty 7.62mm rounds were fired in rapid succession from two kalashnikov type automatic weapons through the gates.
  • The bullets mainly hit the outside of the building. Nobody was injured and the building’s facade only sustained minor damages. However some bullets struck the wall of the bedroom where the ambassador’s daughters – visiting for the holidays – were sleeping.
  • The police guard stationed in the guard post outside the embassy witnessed the attack. He was not targeted by the attackers, nor did he return fire fearing, as he said, the risk of civilian injuries in the densely populated area.
  • The attackers later fled – potentially on motorcycles.

The Evidence:

  • No group has yet claimed responsibility.
  • Soon after the attack police detained six people but released them without charge following questioning.
  • Police are continuing to investigate the scene. Two cars were found close to the ambassador’s home that police believe may have been used by the assailants.
  • Initital tests have shown that two kalashnikovs were used in the attack – each firing thirty rounds. Further ballistics testing hich will allow investigators to ascertain if the guns used in the attack have been used in previous crimes.
  • Footage from the closed circuit cameras will also be analysed for further clues to the attacker’s identities.

Background and Speculation

  • This is not the first time that the residence of the German ambassador in Athens has been targeted. In May of 1999 the terrorist organisation ‘17th of November’ fired a rocket at the building causing damage but no casualties. (that group has since been neutralized by authorities with its leadership currently imprisoned)
  • Many are linking last night’s attack on the German ambassador with a similar attack against the building housing the offices of the governing New Democracy party in January. Then, unknown attackers using kalashnikovs fired rounds targeting Antonis Samaras’s office in the building. Again no one was hurt while responsibility for the attack was taken by a group calling themselves the ‘People’s Fighters’ (Omada Laikon Agoniston).
  • According to deputy prime and foreign minister Evangelos Venizelos, the purpose of the attack was clearly to damage Greece’s image abroad a few days before it is to hold the rotating EU presidency.

The Reaction

  • The attack was immediately condemned by the Greek government which pledged to bring the perpetrators to justice. “The Greek government expresses its outrage and outright condemnation of today's cowardly terrorist action which had the only apparent and objective of (damaging) Greece's image abroad … The perpetrators will soon be brought to justice,” the foreign ministry said.
  • The prime minister Antonis Smaras spoke on the phone both with the German ambassador Wolfgang Dold, as well as with German chancellor Angela Merkel. He pledged that the police would ‘shed light’ on the case, stressing to Ms Merkel that the government would not allow the terrorists to achieve their aims.
  • Foreign minister Evangelos Venizelos and public order minister Nikos Dendias also spoke with the German ambassador expressing their condemnation of the attack and extending their support.
  • Mr Dold issued statements in Greek via twitter thanking the Greek government and police for their support and stating that, ‘whoever is behind the attack will not disrupt the close and friendly relations between our two countries.’ In another tweet the ambassador wrote, “it will not achieve a reversal of the apparent economic revival and the creation of a climate of fear.”

Sources: Kathimerini (link in Greek), Protothema (link in Greek), Guardian