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Explosive found in parcel at Greek Embassy in Rome

By the CNN Wire Staff
Italian Carabinierei outside the Greek embassy in Rome on December 27, 2010 after an explosive package was found there.
Italian Carabinierei outside the Greek embassy in Rome on December 27, 2010 after an explosive package was found there.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Police chief says only Greek Embassy parcel contained an explosive
  • Chief: "The alarm system has worked"
  • An anarchist group claims responsibility for the bombings at the Swiss, Chilean embassies
  • A Greek official disputes an Italian minister's claim that the bombs originated in Greece

(CNN) -- Italian police on Monday found an explosive package at the Greek Embassy in Rome, the second time in as many weeks that embassies there have received explosives through the mail.

The parcel did not explode, and authorities hope that it will provide information that will help in their investigation.

Police also responded to other reports of suspicious packages at the Venezuelan and Danish embassies in Rome and possibly other embassies as well on Monday.

But only the Greek embassy package contained an explosive, according to Francesco Tagliente, the chief of police in Rome.

"The alarm system has worked," Tagliente said. "Since this morning, all the embassies that had a suspected package alerted the police in enough time to determine whether the packages were dangerous and prevent any injuries."

Late last week, an anarchist group claimed credit for a pair of mail bombings Thursday at embassies in Rome, vowing in messages that it plans more such acts to "destroy the systems of domination," the state-run ANSA news agency reported.

Two embassies hit by blasts in Rome
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Police said that the Informal Federation of Anarchists -- an offshoot of the Italian Anarchist Federation, or FAI -- claimed responsibility for attacks at the Swiss and Chilean embassies.

Tagliente said that Monday's packages, which included a note from the FAI, were "certainly related" to the ones last week.

Computer-written notes were sent in small boxes along with the earlier package bombs, according to ANSA. The messages read: "We have decided to make our voices heard again, in words and deeds. We will destroy the system of domination. Long live FAI. Long live anarchy."

The notes also referenced Lambros Fountas, who was shot dead last March while protesting in Athens. The 35-year-old has since become a martyr for the international anarchist movement, particularly groups in Greece, Italy and Spain.

Formed in 1945, Italian Anarchist Federation had seen a "a slow but constant increase" of supporters in recent years, said the website of an umbrella group, L'International des Federations Anarchistes.

The Italian organization aims for "radical change" in support of "oppressed and exploited peoples," doing so with opposition to political powers and even the Catholic Church, the website said.

There was no warning before a Swiss-born, 53-year-old mailroom worker was seriously hurt by an explosion while opening a package at the Swiss Embassy, according to police and the Swiss Foreign Ministry in Bern. One person was taken to a hospital when the second bomb exploded shortly afterward at the Chilean Embassy, police said.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattin called the attacks "a serious threat against foreign embassies in Rome." He said that authorities were checking all embassies in Rome and Italian embassies aboard for suspicious packages.

"We should avoid being alarmist," Frattin said.

Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said the incident is similar to a wave of letter bombs sent last month by an anarchist group based in Greece and claimed the bombs came from there.

But Greek officials disputed the notion that anyone in their country was involved in the blasts.

"There is no evidence that the bombs originated in Greece," Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said.

In addition to the Swiss and Chilean blasts, a "suspicious package" was found at the Ukrainian Embassy in the Italian capital, police said, but it turned out not to be dangerous. There were also false alarms at the Slovenian and Estonian embassies.

In November, police discovered 14 parcel bombs emanating from Greece, most of which were sent to various embassies in Athens.

Police intercepted and destroyed most of them in controlled explosions, but a woman at a courier office was wounded by one of the devices and another device exploded in the courtyard of the Swiss Embassy.

Two men accused of participating in the bombings were remanded into custody after they were arrested in Athens in possession of two parcel bombs, Glock pistols, a bulletproof vest and a wig.

Panagiotis Argyrou, 22, and Gerasimos Tsakalos, 24, were also in possession of a delivery slip for another parcel containing an explosive device that had been delivered to a courier service and was addressed to the Dutch Embassy, police said.

Hellenic Police spokesman Maj. Athanasios Kokkalakis called the two suspects "important members of a terrorist group."

Before the attacks, Argyrou already faced an arrest warrant alleging his membership in an illegal organization called the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire.

Greek authorities stressed that they believed the wave of letter bombs in November was the work of a home-grown Greek terrorist group that does not have ties to international organizations like al Qaeda.

CNN's Jonathan Wald contributed to this report.

 
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