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03 July, 2002
Authorities did not confirm reports on Tuesday that four suspects are being held amid a massive terrorism-related investigation underway at present, all in the wake of a botched bombing attempt over the weekend that has apparently handed Greek police their first major breakthrough regarding the elusive "November 17" group, namely, a wounded bomber and a long-sought after handgun.
Unlike the alleged bomber, 40-year-old Savvas Xiros, the names of the other four men have not been released. Conversely, police released the self-styled church mural and icon painter's long-time companion, Spanish national Alicia Romero Cortez.
The center of investigations has now focused on a warehouse in a central Athens working-class district that Xiros presented over the years as his studio, as well as the couple's remote semi-rural residence east of the Greek capital. Two of the unidentified suspects were arrested some 100 meters from the Kolonos district warehouse, according to neighbors, while the other two were apprehended inside the building a day after the botched bombing attempt Saturday evening in the port of Piraeus.
According to press reports, police have reportedly found printed material with directions related to terrorist activities, while other arrests have not been ruled out.
Additionally, the vehicles tied to Xiros - an Orthodox priest's son in a family of 10 brothers and sisters - are also the focus of authorities' ongoing probe, including a camper used by the couple to travel, as well as an old ambulance Xiros purchased.
Greek police have linked the botched terrorist strike in Piraeus and the subsequent apprehension of the Thessaloniki native to the notorious "November 17" group.
Reading out a brief statement broadcast live on national television Monday evening, the head of Greece's police force (EL.AS) called the case "extremely serious", before revealing that a revolver found near the injured body Xiros late Saturday evening was taken from a policeman killed during a 1984 Christmas Eve robbery in central Athens.
Nasiakos told reporters that the weapon used to kill the police officer on Dec. 24, 1984 was not the same .38 revolver recovered at the port of Piraeus on Saturday evening, but another firearm reportedly used in six attacks later claimed by "November 17".
Gov't, ND on terrorism investigations:
The government recommended "low tones and self-restraint in all directions" on Tuesday, one day after authorities announced the first major breakthrough after decades of investigation into the notorious "November 17" terrorist group.
"There's no reason for scenarios, rumor-mongering and over-optimistic estimates," government spokesman Christos Protopapas told reporters.
"Whatever is certain, checked out and ready for release will be announced by Greek police (EL.AS)," he said.
Meanwhile, main opposition New Democracy spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos stressed, in a press release, that "from a chance incident several significant facts emerged. They must now be exploited with the best possible manner for a success to be achieved against the scourge of terrorism".
Papantoniou comments on terrorism issue:
National Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Tuesday visiting the northern Greek town of Kavala said that he believed the work of the Greek police would lead to the complete break-up of terrorism.
Papantoniou added that the Greek police was these days engaged in very systematic work and he believed that their efforts would result in the complete elimination of terrorism through cooperation with foreign agencies.
Source: Athens News Agency