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Rocket hits American Embassy in Athens

January 12, 2007|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

ATHENS — A rocket hit the U.S. Embassy here early today but no one was hurt, officials said.

Dozens of police cars surrounded the embassy and officers cordoned off all roads in the area, including a major boulevard in front of the mission. Greek antiterrorism officers rushed to the compound.

Investigators found the device used to fire the rocket at a construction site nearby.

"This was a rocket attack launched from a building across the street. It landed inside a toilet on the third floor of the embassy," a senior police official said.

U.S. ambassador Charles P. Ries said the damage was not extensive. "There can be no justification for such a senseless act of violence," he said.

The attack was similar to one carried out by unidentified assailants in 1996 that caused minor damage and no injuries.

The building is surrounded by a 9-foot-high steel fence. Guards are posted at every entrance and at street corners.

A strong anti-American sentiment runs through a segment of the Greek population. The country's most active militant group, November 17, was responsible for bombings and assassinations of U.S. and British diplomats in the 1970s but was dismantled a few years ago, its top members imprisoned or on trial.

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