Gunmen opened fire on the home of the German ambassador in Greece last night, with anti-terror police recovering more 60 bullets from the scene.
Officers closed off the streets around the residence of Ambassador Wolfgang Dold in a usually busy part of Athens’ Halandri district. They said a stolen car was also found near the scene of the shooting, which was reported to have been carried out with automatic weapons.
No group claimed to have carried out the attack, in which nobody was hurt. Police briefly detained six people for questioning, but they were later released without charge amid ongoing investigations.
Germany has been a constant target for criticism in austerity-hit Greece over recent years, while the government said it blamed the shooting on “terrorists” trying to damage Athens’ reputation before it takes over the EU presidency.
Ambassador Dold, a 55-year-old career diplomat who has three children, issued a statement thanking the government for the police's “swift response”.
“To those responsible for this action, I state it will not affect the close and friendly relations between our two countries, and it will not reverse the country's economic recovery,” he said.
On Monday, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well the German ambassador following the attack.
“The Greek government expresses its outrage and outright condemnation of today's cowardly terrorist action which had the only apparent and objective of (damaging) Greece's image abroad ... The perpetrators will soon be brought to justice,” a foreign ministry statement said.
Germany is the country’s biggest bail-out lender, and has been blamed for imposing tough economic measures as a condition of its loans.
The same embassy residence was also the target in a 1999 attack using an improvised rocket launcher. That also resulted in no injuries, and was claimed by the November 17 terrorist group.
Foreign diplomats were repeatedly targeted by far-left terrorist groups active from the mid-1970s but such attacks have been rare since a major police crackdown on radical militants that started more than a decade ago and resulted in multiple arrests and convictions.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press