A previously unknown Greek far-left group has claimed responsibility for the shooting of two members of the country’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn group.
Golden Dawn members Emmanuel Kapelonis, 22, and Giorgos Foundoulis, 27 were killed in a drive-by shooting outside the local branch of the far-right party in the suburb of Neo Iraklio in a northern suburb of Athens.
The far-left group, calling themselves “Fighting Peoples’ Revolutionary Forces”, said the two were shot in retaliation for the recent murder of left-wing rapper Pavlos Fyssas.
“The attack was an act of retaliation for the murder of Pavlos Fyssas,” the group said in an 18-page statement published on a local news website.
Fyssas was fatally stabbed by suspected Golden Dawn member George Roupakias outside a café in Keratsini, western Athens in September.
The musician’s killing triggered a wave of protests across Greece and prompted strong statements by the country’s political leaders.
“We will not allow our country to become a place to settle scores,” Greece’s Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection Nikos Dendias said in a statement.
Since Fyssas’s murder, the leader of Golden Dawn and two of its lawmakers have been jailed pending trial on charges of running a criminal group.
Golden Dawn rose from a fringe group to win nearly seven percent of the vote in the 2012 general elections, and has seen its support rising to around 12 percent since then due to its widespread criticism of immigration and austerity reforms in the debt-stricken country.
Counterterrorism officials are investigating the authenticity of the group’s claim, local media report.
Greek officials fear the killings could affect the country’s future by sparking a new round of retaliation and further fueling social unrest.
Greek metro workers have defied a court order to return to work and have staged the sixth day of strikes over the government’s spending cuts.
Athens was without a metro service on Tuesday for four to five hours, which comes in continuation to the protest started on Thursday over the planned cuts to metro workers’ salaries.
A Greek court ruled against Athens Metro Workers’ Union’s planned strikes and permitted the government to use force to make personnel return to work.
Union officials call on the government to abolish the planned changes to the public sector’s pay scales, which comes as Athens implements measures to satisfy its eurozone creditors.
Reductions in public sector workers’ incomes have made it harder for Greeks to make ends meet.
“With these latest cuts, someone like me who earned 1,300 euros per month will end up clearing something like 700 euros,” Metro Workers’ Union Head Antonis Stamatopoulos said.
“We cannot live on what we earn,” he added.
Stamatopoulos said that apart from stopping the changes to the pay cuts, the only way the government could make them return to work would be through force.
“Civil mobilization? They can enforce it if they want. Maybe they should come here with tanks to force us back to work,” Stamatopoulos said.
Parliament introduced new austerity measures in December 2012, which eurozone finance ministers approved for bailout packages of 9.2 billion euros on Monday and 34.3 billion euros last month.
Europe plunged into financial crisis in early 2008. The worsening debt crisis has forced the EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, which have triggered massive protests in many European countries.