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Greece4 December 2008

Fire bomb attack on Athens office of Agence France-Presse

Reporters Without Borders today strongly condemned a firebombing yesterday against the Athens office of Agence France-Presse (AFP), claimed by a tiny extreme-left group as a gesture of “solidarity with French comrades”.

The bomb - made up of four gas canisters - was lit outside the AFP office door on the fifth floor of a city centre office, causing a fire that was quickly put out by fire fighters.

Two journalists inside the office at the time were safely evacuated and were unhurt. The Greek police anti-terrorist brigade was investigating.

An unidentified caller to an Athens daily newspaper claimed responsibility for the attack in the name of the group “Conspiration of cells of fire” as “a gesture of solidarity with French comrades”. The bombing could be linked to charges against nine members of a group charged in France with damaging rail lines.

“To hold journalists responsible, whatever their nationality, for supposed complicity with a legal decision which they have absolutely nothing to do with, is both stupid and dangerous” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“We would like to express our sympathy with the staff of AFP as well as their families, it added.

“The reinforced door was completely burnt out. I saw four canisters, which had been set on fire just outside the door. Nothing is working in the office, including the telephones”, said Eleni Coliopoulou, one of the two journalists present in the building at the time.

“The building’s lift and electrics have also been affected. It is very easy to get access to the building, anyone can come and go on the fifth floor”, she added.

“We really didn’t expect anything like this to happen. We are waiting for the results of the investigation”, said bureau chief, Philippe Perdriau.

Anarchist movements with links to the extreme left specialise in this kind of attack involving gas canisters against agencies, banks and embassies. Masked activists from French revolutionary group Action Directe sprayed graffiti on the walls of AFP offices after French police refused to release a member of French revolutionary group Action Directe.

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