Forensic experts search the area outside the Russian consulate in Athens, Friday, March 22, 2019. Police say a bomb disposal squad has been sent to the Russian consulate in Athens after cameras showed a suspicious object believed to be a hand grenade being thrown over the perimeter fence overnight. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavakis)

Grenade thrown at Russian Consulate in Greece; no injuries

March 22, 2019 - 4:46 am

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Assailants suspected of belonging to a left-wing militant group threw a hand grenade at the Russian Consulate in Athens on Friday, causing minor damage and no injuries, Greek authorities said.

Police sent a bomb disposal team to the consulate after cameras showed two people on a motorbike throwing a small object in the early hours of the morning at the fence beside the consulate's security guard post, reportedly causing minor damage. No security guard was at the post at the time.

Police cordoned off the area around the consulate, located in a suburb north of the city center. Greece's counter-terrorism police were investigating the attack.

The foreign ministry issued a statement condemning the attack, which it said would not affect "the traditional and inherently long-term friendly relations ... with Russia." it said a thorough investigation would be carried out to catch the perpetrators.

Authorities were examining a motorbike found partially burned in a central Athens neighborhood.

Greece has a long history of small groups that periodically attack symbols of state authority, wealth or foreign diplomacy. They usually plant small explosive devices that don't cause injuries.

Police officials, speaking on condition of anonymity as the investigation was ongoing, said they suspect the attack was carried out by a leftist militant group called the Popular Fighters Group, which had claimed responsibility for a bombing against the offices of a television station and newspaper in December.

Authorities were also investigating whether other active militant groups might have been behind Friday's attack.

The Popular Fighters Group, known by its Greek acronym OLA, is considered responsible for several bombings and shootings since it first appeared in 2003, when it fired shots at the offices of Greece's conservative New Democracy party.

It has also carried out shootings against the residence of the German ambassador in Athens, fired a rocket against the offices of a car dealership and planted bombs outside the offices of Greece's federation of enterprises, a bank and a courthouse.

None of its attacks have caused any injuries.

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