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Greece charges six over guerrilla attacks

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece has charged six suspected members of its most militant guerrilla group, the leftist Revolutionary Struggle, over a series of bomb attacks, court officials said Monday.

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The five men and a woman, aged between 30 and 40 years old, were arrested Sunday in what appeared to be a major strike against those believed to be behind a number of attacks on police, the government and businesses since 2003.

“The prosecutor has charged them with participating in bomb attacks, participating in a terrorist group and attempted murder, illegal possession of explosives and guns, among other things,” said a court official who declined to be named.

The six suspects have all denied any wrongdoing.

“It is an important step for us as a government and a society to fight terrorism and crime, to develop a feeling of security among citizens, especially at these difficult times of social and economic crises,” Deputy Defense Minister Panos Beglitis told Greek television.

The socialist government, elected in October, has made combating guerrilla groups a priority, and the arrests will be a boost for it at a time when Greece is struggling to exit a debt crisis shaking the entire euro zone.

Revolutionary Struggle is best known for firing a grenade at the U.S. embassy in Athens in 2007. The group is also believed to have shot and seriously injured a policeman guarding the culture ministry after riots in December 2008.

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The court official said all the charges related to crimes committed since September 2003, when Revolutionary Struggle first appeared about a year after the capture of the guerrilla group November 17, which killed more than 20 people in 27 years.

Police raided dozens of suspects’ homes over the weekend and Monday. They said they had found a hard disk containing pamphlets claiming attacks by Revolutionary Struggle as well as handwritten texts about past and intended attacks.

Dozens of masked youths set fire to garbage containers and hurled stones at police in central Athens after the arrests on Sunday.

Police said the suspects included Nikos Maziotis, 39, who had been jailed for three and a half years for planting a bomb outside a ministry in 1997.

Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Kevin Liffey