The U.S. military attache in Greece was killed Tuesday on the street where he lived by a bomb in a parked car that blew his armor-plated car off the road as he drove to work.
The Pentagon confirmed the attack and identified him as Navy Capt. William E. Nordeen.The officer was 100 yards from his home when the blast hurled his car across the small tree-lined street and lodged it in a steel fence, a police spokesman said on condition of anonymity.
The victim's decapitated body was found a few yards away in the front yard of an abandoned house.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, but senior police officials said they believed it to be the work of
November 17, a left-wing urban terrorist group.
In Washington, chief Pentagon spokesman Dan Howard confirmed Nordeen's identity and condemned his murder as a "cowardly act."
"The United States condemns this terrorist outrage in the strongest possible terms," Howard said. "It was a senseless and cowardly murder of a highly regarded U.S. military officer."
The spokesman said the U.S. government had received no claims of responsibility for the assassination, "and at this point we don't know who is responsible."
Howard said Nordeen was serving as the U.S. defense attache as well as the naval attache to Greece. The 52-year-old officer was born in Amery, Minn., but listed his U.S. home as Centuria, Wis. He is survived by a wife and daughter, Howard said.
According to a service biography released by Howard, Nordeen moved to Athens for the job in August 1985. Trained originally as a Navy helicopter pilot, Nordeen most recently worked on the staff of the Naval inspector general from June 1983 to April 1984, then transferred as a student to the Defense Intelligence Agency for training to become an attache.
The explosion occurred at 8:06 a.m. (:06 a.m. EDT) in the northern Athens suburb of Kifissia, where many American and foreign diplomats live.
Trees, fences, gates and walls in the area around the explosion were blackened by smoke after fire engulfed both cars.
Large body panels from both automobiles were strewn in a 50-yard radius.
Police bomb experts said the device was detonated by "some kind of remote-control radio device."