CORRECTED - Prominent Greek ship owner abducted by armed men
(Corrects second paragraph to make it clear Panagopoulos is the founder of Superfast, not president)
ATHENS Jan 12 (Reuters) - A prominent Greek ship owner was kidnapped near his home in Athens on Monday by three men armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, in the third such high-profile abduction in Greece since June, police said.
The founder of Greek ferry operator Superfast Ferries, Pericles Panagopoulos, was abducted as he was being driven to work in a coastal suburb. No-one was injured in the incident, which is being investigated by anti-terrorist police.
"Panagopoulos and his driver were stopped and forced into another car by three gun-wielding assailants," a police official who declined to be name told Reuters.
"The driver was then set free and subsequently informed the police of the event."
Police found a burned van and a car northeast of Athens, believed to belong to the abductors. Police sources said they thought the kidnapping was the act of criminals seeking a ransom.
In June, the chief executive of aluminium company Alumil and chairman of the Federation of Industries in the northern city of Thessaloniki, George Milonas, was kidnapped before being released two weeks later after a ransom was paid.
Police arrested Greece's most wanted fugitive, Vassilis Palaiokostas, in August for Milonas' kidnapping. He escaped from prison in 2006, where he was serving a sentence for robbery and kidnapping.
Last month, a well-known Athens doctor was also kidnapped but has yet to be found.
Superfast Ferries, which operates mainly routes between Greece and Italy, is a subsidiary of Greece's largest ferry operator Attica Holdings.
In December, Greece was rocked by the worst riots in decades following the police shooting of a teenager. A policeman was shot and seriously wounded by unknown assailants last week and police sources say they suspect the re-emergence of left-wing guerrilla group, Revolutionary Struggle. (Reporting by George Hatzidakis and Renee Maltezou; editing by Myra MacDonald)
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