by Aggelos Skordas
Hellenic Police Counter Terrorism Squad arrested nine Turkish nationals in downtown Athens on Tuesday. The raid was part of an ongoing investigation linked to Turkish leftwing militant group DHKP-C (Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/ Front) outlawed and classified as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union. The arrests come just ten days before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s first presidential visit to Greece.
According to Police, the nine suspects are allegedly involved in the transportation of munitions near the island of Chios in 2013 that was apparently intercepted by Greek security forces. Among those detained from three apartments in the central Athens neighbourhood of Neos Kosmos and Kallithea are eight male and one female, all Turkish nationals. Same sources explain that the investigation is at its first stages and more arrests might follow as Police officials have now focused on the materials found in the apartments, which would probably be used for the construction of explosion devices.
At the same time, Greek authorities are also examining the possibility of an attack against Turkish President Erdogan during his visit in Athens. Moreover, Police is examining whether Turkish outlaws have crossed the borders (mainly in Northern Greece) during the last 20 days, when details of Erdogan’s visit were being settled, but also if there is a second “cell” of armed Turkish nationals linked with the leftwing militant group in the country. The operation was conducted by the Greek authorities alone, without any cooperation or information from other states, including Turkey, Citizen Protection and Public Order Alternate Minister Nikos Toskas told the evening newscast of ANT1 TV channel on Tuesday.
On March 31, 2015 members of DHKP-C took prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz hostage on the sixth floor of the Istanbul Justice Palace. They demanded that the Police announce the names of four members of the security services who they said were connected to the death of 15-year-old boy Berkin Elvan, killed by a tear-gas canister fired by a police officer during the 2013 Istanbul protests. Security forces eventually stormed the courthouse and killed both gunmen, while the prosecutor was found severely injured and died later. DHKP-C made its first appearance in Turkey in 1978 and has ever since conducted a series of attacks.