Rocket threat to 'Ark Royal'

AN ATTACK on the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal was narrowly averted after terrorist rocket launchers failed to fire because they were waterlogged, Greek police said yesterday.

A left-wing terrorist group, November 17, later claimed responsibility for the attempt on the Ark Royal as well as two separate attacks on American and Dutch insurance companies in Athens.

The Ark Royal had been in Greece for a week-long maintenance visit before returning to help enforce the United Nations embargo on Serbia. It left the port of Piraeus near Athens yesterday unaware of the potentially disastrous attack, Royal Navy officials said.

During the visit many Greeks toured the ship, which has a crew of 1,000 and usually carries nine Harrier jump-jets and a dozen Sea King helicopters.

In a search police discovered home-made rocket launchers with rockets and automatic timers in a field 200 yards from where the ship was docked. The search was carried out after an Athens radio station received an anonymous call saying the November 17 guerrilla group attempted to hit the 20,000-ton carrier with two 88mm rockets while it was in Piraeus.

Police said they thought the rockets were set to go off last week but rain had fouled the timers, thwarting the attack.

The guerrillas also claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on the Alico American Life Insurance company and a time-bomb attack on the Dutch Nationale Netherlanden insurance company yesterday. The blasts caused damage but no injuries.

November 17 is a small terrorist group opposed to foreign companies, the US military presence in Greece and the country's membership of the European Union and Nato. It has claimed responsibility for killing 19 people since first appearing in 1975 when it shot dead the US CIA station chief, Richard Welch. None of its members has been arrested.

In late 1990 and early 1991, the group attacked US and British business interests to protest against the allied war effort against Iraq.

The group, described by the US State Department as one of Europe's deadliest and most competent terrorist groups, resurfaced in January when it claimed responsibility for the murder of the former head of Greece's National Bank, Mihalis Vranopoulos.

The group carried out a raid on a Greek army depot in 1990, escaping with 3.5-inch anti-tank rockets which were used in nine separate attacks in 1991 on central Athens streets.

The group takes its name from the day in 1973 when the then-ruling military junta sent tanks to crush a student revolt in Athens.

Diplomats dismissed claims the targeting of the Ark Royal was linked to Britain's support for strikes against the Bosnian Serbs.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Project Administrator

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Administrator is requ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn