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A bomb blast in Athens late Sunday night killed a 15-year-old boy and wounded his mother and sister. While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, the bombing comes as part of increasing urban violence and militant leftist attacks against the police, businesses, and public buildings in Greece. The uptick started after police shot and killed a teenager in December 2008.
Bombings have become a frequent occurrence in Greece, but they rarely kill or injure anyone. Sunday’s attack was the first in years to leave someone dead. The last attack to harm someone occurred in October 2009, when militants attacked a police station with machine guns, wounding six officers.
Police officials say that the victims of the latest bombing were Afghan immigrants. The family reportedly went to the crowded Patissia district in Athens every night to rummage through the trash. According to police reports, the boy likely opened the bag while looking through the trash and triggered the device, reports The Times of London.
Michalis Chryssohoides, the Minister for the Protection of the Citizen, described the explosion as a “repugnant terrorist act” and promised that “the guilty parties will be arrested and brought to justice.”
"A young man has died in a mortal trap set by terrorists. The assassins consider us all as enemies, whether one is a policeman, an immigrant, or just another citizen," Mr. Chryssohoides said.
Police are still working to determine the motives of the attackers. The bomb was placed outside the headquarters of a nonprofit organization called the Hellenic Management Association, but it remains unclear whether that was the intended target, reports The Guardian.
Most recent attacks have been minor and blamed on extreme leftists or anarchist groups. On March 23, a group known as the Conspiracy Nuclei of Fire claimed responsibility for three bombings targeting the offices of a conservative political party, a police immigration center, and a prominent Pakistani immigrant’s home. Representatives of the groups said it carried out the attacks to draw attention to racism in Greece, reports The Daily Telegraph.
The Greek government has been working to crack down on extremist groups, especially since the socialist government took control in October. Eight members of the Conspiracy Nuclei of Fire were arrested after police discovered a weapons cache outside Athens in September. The group is also suspected to have carried out several firebomb attacks since 2008 that did not kill or injure anyone, reports Agence France-Presse.
But there are conflicting reports that the 15-year-old killed in the blast may have been carrying the explosives. SkyNews reports that Greek police are investigating whether the boy may have had any connection to the attack, or if he was just an innocent victim.