Greek troops were ordered into the streets of Athens to help police stem a wave of terrorist bombings and rocket attacks in the past four days, Public Order Minister Ioannis Vassiliadis said Tuesday.
The announcement came hours after unknown assailants fired a small rocket at the offices of the British Petroleum company in an Athens suburb, smashing two windows but causing no casualties.Vassiliadis said troops were called out to help Greece's overstretched police force to protect potential terrorist targets.
"It seems Greek terrorists have allied themselves with (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein" and the troops had to be called out because there are thousands of potential targets, he said.
Tuesday's rocket attack was the sixth against Western interests in Athens in four days. Police Chief Simon Papadoyorgos said the attacks were linked to the Persian Gulf war and the Greek terrorist group November 17 is believed responsible.
Police said the rocket was fired about 25 minutes after midnight from a construction site across the street, damaging upper windows of the B.P. company offices in the Halandri suburb, 5 miles north of Athens.
No group or individual immediately claimed responsibility.
Police said the rocket was of the 3.5-inch diameter type stolen last year from a military garrison at Larissa, 125 miles northwest of Athens.
Monday, a similar rocket was used against the American Express offices in central Athens. November 17 was also suspected in that attack and in the bombing minutes earlier outside the offices of the Interamerican insurance company.
The bombings and rocket attacks occurred despite a high security alert in Athens and its suburbs since the war erupted Jan. 17.
Government spokesmen Byron Polydoras said embassies, government buildings and such sensitive installations as refineries are high on the priority list to protect. Businesses, including banks, are lower down on the list, he said.
Friday, three bomb explosions damaged branch offices of the U.S.-owned Citibank and the British-owned Barclays Bank in Athens. Two more bombs placed in cars damaged the balcony of the French military attache's apartment in the city,
An unidentified caller told a Greek newspaper November 17 was responsible for Friday's attacks.
Meanwhile, India's government Tuesday came under criticism from its coalition partner, the Congress Party, for allowing U.S. military transport planes to refuel in Bombay on their way to the Persian Gulf.