ATHENS: A bomb exploded outside the offices of a Greek business federation in central Athens early on Tuesday, police officials said, smashing windows but causing no injuries.
The blast, which police believe was carried out by domestic guerrilla groups, is the first such incident since leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras came to power in January.
Attacks against banks, politicians and business people are not uncommon in Greece, which has a long history of political violence and has been mired in its worst economic crisis in decades.
The device, triggered by a timer and placed in a backpack near the entrance of the Hellenic Business Federation offices, went off around 3:30 a.m. (0130 GMT). An anonymous caller warned a newspaper some 30 minutes earlier, a police official said on condition of anonymity.
Witnesses said glass from smashed windows was strewn across the streets in one of the busiest parts of central Athens, a stone’s throw from parliament in Syntagma Square that is lined with cafes, banks and shops.
“I heard it, it made me dizzy because it was so loud,” said Kostas Papalogizopoulos, who was working the night shift at a kiosk across the street.
“We knew about it, police had warned us that there may be a bomb because they found a suspicious bag and told us to be careful because of the sonic boom, so I was standing outside the kiosk.”
Police cordoned off a two-block area surrounding the building and bomb disposal squads were examining the scene.
Video from a security camera at a nearby building recorded two people wearing dark clothes and helmets fleeing the scene on a motorcycle at high speed, a police official told Reuters.
“This confirms the account of what a security guard in the area saw. The building of the business federation is not regularly guarded,” the official said, declining to be named.
Police were checking other cameras in the area.
The blast caused damage in five nearby buildings, mostly shattered glass.
Makeshift bomb and arson attacks have escalated in Greece since 2010, when it first adopted unpopular austerity measures such as tax rises, wage and pension cuts in exchange for multi-billion euro bailouts by the European Union and the IMF.
In July, Athens agreed to further rounds of austerity under its third bailout.
Tsipras’ government condemned the attack.