By Elena Becatoros and Melissa Eddy
Wednesday, November 3, 2010; A11
ATHENS - Greek terrorists are suspected of unleashing an unprecedented two-day wave of mail bombings targeting embassies in Athens, international organizations and foreign leaders, with devices exploding Tuesday at the Russian and Swiss embassies and German authorities destroying a bomb sent to Chancellor Angela Merkel.
By Tuesday evening, at least 11 mail bombs had been detected in the Greek capital - one addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy and eight to the embassies of Belgium, Bulgaria, Chile, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia and Switzerland.
Two more were destroyed in controlled explosions at the Athens airport - one addressed to the European Union's highest court, in Luxembourg, and the other to law enforcement agency Europol in the Netherlands.
If it is confirmed that domestic Greek terrorist groups are responsible for the attacks, it would mark a dramatic escalation for organizations that have never attempted to strike targets abroad. Security at all embassies in Athens has been increased.
The campaign used small devices that caused one injury and minimal damage. But it highlights the difficulty of keeping bombs out of the international delivery system - also a target of Yemen-based militants armed with more powerful explosives.
It was unclear whether the bomb sent to Germany was delivered by land or air. If sent by air, it would highlight the potential limitations of air cargo security that remain, despite the concern triggered by the mail bombs dispatched recently from Yemen.
"If they have been flown, then it rather begs the question whether European freight air security is up to muster at all," said Chris Yates, an aviation security consultant based in Britain.
But transportation industry officials also said there are few if any security checks on packages transported within the European Union by road or rail.
"Once they're in Europe, the goods are free to move around," said Robert Windsor, manager of trade services at the British International Freight Association.
- Associated Press
Nicholas Paphitis contributed to this report.