Bomb fears halt Greek mail service

The 48-hour ban was imposed after mail bombs reached the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel…

Greece has suspended international airmail for 48 hours after more than 10 suspicious packages were sent to targets in Greece and across Europe.

The 48-hour ban was imposed after mail bombs reached the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and halted flights for hours at an Italian airport where a package addressed to Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi caught fire.

The letter-bomb campaign began Monday in Athens when a package addressed to the Mexican Embassy exploded in the hands of a courier service worker, causing minor wounds. At that time, the police detained the two suspects and destroyed three letter bombs: the one addressed to Mr. Sarkozy, and two others addressed to the Belgian and Dutch Embassies.

On Tuesday, after the bomb exploded at the Swiss Embassy, another went off at the Russian Embassy. A device sent to the Bulgarian Embassy was destroyed by police bomb disposal experts. Another letter bomb, addressed to the Chilean Embassy, was destroyed by police officers outside Parliament.

An extreme left-wing group is suspected of carrying out the campaign – police are questioning two suspects arrested in connection with the bombings and released the photographs of five other suspects believed to be associated with them.

The country’s Prime Minister, George Papandreou, said he would be ‘merciless to those who attempt in vain to rock social peace with terrorist acts and hurt our country’s image internationally during a very difficult period.’

Dr Athanasios Drougos, a lecturer on terrorism and intelligence matters at Greece’s military academies, said US intelligence officials are concerned that, in the future in Greece, there may be co-operation between anarchist groups and Islamist organisations because they have common targets.

But the Greek authorities have made it clear that there is no connection between the Athenian parcel bombs and al-Qaeda.

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