By Karolina Tagaris
At least two people were killed in a drive-by shooting outside the offices of Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn party in Athens on Friday, police said.
The attack took place as the government is cracking down on Golden Dawn, Greece’s third-most popular political force, after a party sympathiser stabbed an anti-fascism rapper to death in September.
The victims were aged 20 and 23 years old, Golden Dawn said on its website, but police had not yet verified their identities and details on the shooting were not immediately available. A third person was seriously wounded and taken to hospital.
“The murderers – whoever they are – will be dealt with unsparingly by our democracy. Let everyone know this,” government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told reporters outside the prime minister’s mansion.
Scores of police in riot gear cordoned off the streets surrounding the offices in the northern Athens suburb of Neo Iraklio and TV footage showed Ourania Mihaloliakou, the daughter of the party’s detained leader, had rushed to the scene.
Golden Dawn rose from obscurity on an anti-immigrant and anti-austerity agenda to enter parliament for the first time last year.
The killing of rapper Pavlos Fissas prompted a crackdown on the party and led to sometimes violent protests across Greece. The government says it will wipe out a party it describes as a “neo-Nazi gang”.
The party features a swastika-like emblem and its leader has denied the Holocaust but the group rejects the neo-Nazi label.
Lawmakers from across the political spectrum condemned the killings, with Dimitris Papadimoulis, a lawmaker from the leftist opposition Syriza party, calling it a “blow to democracy.”
“It feeds fascism, it does not beat it,” he wrote on Twitter.
The public order minister, Nikos Dendias, said the law would be imposed and he would not allow Greece to become “anyone’s battlefield for settling scores.”
Golden Dawn, which has 18 lawmakers in Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s government, said it had asked for police protection at its offices after receiving threats.
“Samaras’s anti-Greek government is to blame for the crime, which allowed out of control terrorists to murder young kids in cold blood,” the party said in a statement.
Party leader Nikolaos Mihaloliakos and two senior lawmakers were ordered detained last month pending their trial on charges of belonging to a criminal group.