Three bombs exploded before dawn today outside a police station in central Athens, breaking windows and damaging property 100 days before the Olympic Games begin Aug. 13 in the Greek capital. No injuries were reported.
An anonymous caller told an Athens newspaper about the bombs and it alerted police, the police department said in a statement. Two bombs went off within five minutes of each other and the third, placed under a car 10 meters away, exploded a half hour later, police said. No one has claimed responsibility.
“This is an isolated incident that won’t affect the safety of Olympic preparations,” Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said in a statement. Preliminary evidence shows the blasts weren’t related to the Olympics, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said in a statement, without giving details.
Security officials are concerned about the possibility of terrorism at the games, the first summer Olympics to be held since the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. Bombings by Greek militants have decreased since the government in 2002 arrested members of the November 17 terrorist group, which has claimed responsibility for 23 killings since 1975.
Police in March found and exploded a bomb outside a branch of Citibank in Athens.
The explosions broke windows and caused damage to cars, shops and homes in the mainly residential neighborhood of Kallithea. The state-run Athens News Agency cited anti-terrorist police as saying the bombs were homemade, timed explosive devices.
“We’re still investigating,” Eleftherios Ikonomou, a Greek police spokesman, said in a telephone interview. “All incidents are serious but we’re waiting for the investigation to proceed further so we can have a considered opinion.”
The International Olympic Committee “understands from the Greek authorities that nothing learnt so far indicates this morning’s incident was related to preparations for this summer’s Olympic Games,” IOC Director of Communications Giselle Davies said in an e-mailed statement.
The national Olympic committees of Italy, France, Germany, Spain, the U.K. and Poland met last month to discuss security for the games “because the problem is indeed evident,” Rafael Pagnozzi, secretary general of the Italian Olympic Committee, said in an interview. The committee is also in contact with Italian security officials.
“We’ve been dealing with the security matter for some time now, and are moving with maximum discretion to find the best possible conditions and solutions to guarantee the safety of our athletes and teams,” Pagnozzi said.
Greece is spending about 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) on security for the Olympics.
More than 50,000 police and soldiers will be on duty, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will help patrol the sea and air around Athens. Greece, in cooperation with the U.S. and other countries, this month will conduct the eighth in a series of security tests for the Olympics.
“Any bomb that goes off in Athens is worrying,” Bob Elphinston, general secretary of the Australian Olympic Committee, said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “Whether it’s a coincidence that it’s 100 days to the Games, time will tell.”
Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis, who chairs a committee that will decide on issues such as when to use special forces or evacuate venues in case of a security threat to the games, this week began a visit to the U.S.
He is scheduled to meet officials at the Homeland Security Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller and Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet. He is accompanied by the heads of Greek police and intelligence.
The U.S. is part of a seven-nation group that is advising Greece on security for the Olympics. The Olympics are scheduled for Aug. 13-29 in Athens.