Friday, January 12, 2007

Explosion at U.S. Embassy in Athens; No Injuries

MSNBC Updated: 11:13 p.m. MT Jan 11, 2007
ATHENS - Attackers caused an explosion at the U.S. embassy in Athens on Friday, but it was uncertain if they used a rocket or a bomb, police said."The blast was caused by an attack from the outside of the embassy. We are not in a position to say what kind of device was used," a senior police official told Reuters. A U.S. embassy spokesman said no one was hurt in the explosion. Authorities searched nearby apartment buildings and a hospital amid reports that an rocket may have been fired at the building.
The blast smashed glass in the front of the building, near the U.S. emblem of the embassy. "I heard a loud bang I didn't realize what was going on," said Giorgos Yiannoulis, who runs a kiosk near the embassy. Police did not report any injuries and embassy officials could not immediately be reached for comment. Dozens of police cars surrounded the embassy and police cordoned off all roads in the area, including a major boulevard in front of the mission. "Police have cut off all traffic. I am standing right here but there does not seem to be any damage. Greece's anti-terror squad are now investigating inside the embassy," a U.S. embassy employee at the scene told Reuters.
Police officials at the scene said that whatever caused the explosion damaged the official embassy sign outside the mission, but there was little other indication of the extent of damage inside. The tightly guarded building is surrounded by a 9-feet-high steel fence. Guards are posted at every entrance and at street corners around it. Local residents called in to state television saying they had felt the explosion, which shattered some windows. Traffic came to a standstill across parts of central Athens, as police and emergency services scrambled to the embassy building. The U.S. Embassy -- a heavily guarded building -- is a frequent destination for protest groups but American officials have not been targeted in more than a decade. Greece's biggest domestic security threat, the leftist November 17 guerrilla group, which had in the past killed U.S. and other foreign diplomats in Greece, was dismantled in 2002. This developing story will be updated as details become available.

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