A previously unknown anti-establishment group has claimed responsibility for killing two supporters of the far-right Golden Dawn party in a drive-by shooting in Athens earlier this month.
The Greek group, which calls itself the “Militant People's Revolutionary Forces”, said the attack was in retaliation for the fatal stabbing of anti-fascism rapper Pavlos Fissas, to which a Golden Dawn sympathiser has confessed.
The shooting of the two Golden Dawn supporters, who were in their 20s, outside the party's offices came at a time of growing public anger against a party widely regarded as neo-Nazi and accused of attacks against migrants and leftists. The murders had raised fears of an escalation of political violence.
Police could not confirm the authenticity of the claim, which came on the eve of rallies to commemorate the 40th anniversary of a bloody student uprising against the military junta that ruled Greece for seven years.
“The brazen murder of Pavlos Fissas was the drop of blood that made the glass overflow,” the group wrote in an 18-page letter filled with strong anti-establishment language and published on a Greek news website. It called the rapper's killing a “turning point”.
“The armed attack-response ... is the starting point of the people's campaign to send the neo-Nazi scum of Golden Dawn where they belong, to the dustbin of history,” it said.
Golden Dawn denies accusations of violence and rejects the neo-Nazi label, it also denies any involvement in Fissas's killing.
An opinion poll released on Saturday indicated that support for Golden Dawn has grown since the two men were shot. The party, Greece's third most popular in surveys, had shed almost a third of its support after Fissas's death in September.
A government crackdown on Golden Dawn following evidence linking it to Fissas's killing, led to party leader Nikolaos Mihaloliakos and five more of its politicians being arrested and charged for belonging to a criminal group. Mihaloliakos and two other have been remanded in custody until their trial.