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Extremist group in Greece attacks police

The shooting by Revolutionary Struggle raises concern over a resurgence of domestic terrorism.

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The shooting of a Greek policeman Monday escalates a simmering conflict between police and leftist groups – and raises new concern over a resurgence of the militant left in a country with a long history of such violence.

Greece has been wracked by violent street protests and attacks on government and police facilities since the Dec. 6 killing of a 15-year-old boy by a policeman.

The incident Monday, which left 21-year-old policeman Diamandis Matzounis in critical but stable condition, marks a dramatic intensification of the violence. Although protesters have previously destroyed property and hurled Molotov cocktails at police, gun violence is extremely rare.

Police say they have linked one of the guns used in the attack to an extreme left-wing group calling itself Revolutionary Struggle, which has claimed responsibility for several previous incidents. In January 2007, the group attacked the US Embassy in Athens with a rocket-propelled grenade.

Ballistics tests, say police, show that another gun used in Monday's shooting,was also used in an attack on a bus load of Greek riot police on Dec. 23. No one was seriously injured. In that case, credit for the attack was claimed by a previously unknown group calling itself Public Action. Little is known about the two groups or their ties.

Most previous attacks claimed by Revolutionary Struggle took place early in the morning when they were unlikely to kill anyone. In Monday's shooting, at least two gunmen opened fire with semiautomatic weapons on policemen guarding Greece's culture ministry. The building is located near the neighborhood where the 15-year-old boy was shot in December – a frequent site of clashes between police and leftist groups.

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