Two men were killed and a third is fighting for his life after unknown assailants opened fire on them outside offices belonging to the extreme right-wing political party Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) in northern Athens.
Twenty-two-year-old Manolis Kapelonis and 26-year old Giorgos Fountoulis were killed, while 29-year old Alexandros Gerontas underwent a splenectomy on Friday night and remains under intensive care, his condition described as critical. The three men, all Golden Dawn members, were shot outside the party’s offices in Neo Iraklio in an attack early Friday evening.
The perpetrators were two unidentified men who drove up to the scene, outside the Golden Dawn offices, on a motorbike, wearing crash helmets. One of them opened fire with a handgun that investigators said was likely a semi-automatic Zastava. Two of the victims were hit in the head and chest.
The attack marks the second time Greece has seen deadly political violence in a couple of months. In September, a 45-year-old Golden Dawn member was arrested for the killing of the anti-fascist rapper Pavlov Fyssas, leading to an investigation into the party and the arrest on separate charges of a number of key Golden Dawn members, including several politicians representing the neo-fascist party in the parliament.
Police now believe it likely that an “urban guerrilla” group was behind the attack on Friday. The term refers to extreme left-wing groups that for years have been responsible for a number of a violent attacks in the country. According to police sources quoted in the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, the only such group in recent years to have carried out a cold-blooded assassination like Friday’s is the group Sechta ton Epanastaton (Sect of Revolutionaries), which murdered anti-terror force policeman Nektarios Savvas in June 2009 and has claimed responsibility for the assassination of investigative journalist Sokratis Giolias in July 2010. However, the Sect of Revolutionaries has not made an appearance since 2010.
Imprisoned members of another left-wing extremist group, Synomosia Pyrínon Tis Fotiás (Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei), last month called for the formation of a united front including the Fire Nuclei, the Sect of Revolutionaries and other groups. However, it remains unclear whether there is any connection to Friday’s attack on the three Golden Dawn members.
According to Kathimerini, police are also investigating whether the shooting could be connected to Nikos Maziotis, a member of another left-wing extremist group, Epanastatikos Agonas (Revolutionary Struggle). Maziotis is currently on the run, and has been suspected of a bank robbery, but in a statement published on the left-wing media platform Indymedia he denies having been involved in the attack on Golden Dawn.