Unidentified assailants attacked the French Institute on Sina Street in Athens during the early hours of Monday morning. The attackers entered the premises at 4:00 in the morning and doused an Institute vehicle parked in the forecourt with a flammable liquid, before setting it on fire.
Two fire engines and seven fire fighters responded to the call to put out the fire, which also spread to a second vehicle belonging to the Institute that was parked near the first.
Roughly an hour later, unknown assailants use a pick axe to break the Institute’s windows and again set fires using flammable liquids, though the prompt intervention of the fire brigade limited damage and prevented this from spreading.
The police have launched an investigation to find those responsible.
Greece’s foreign ministry condemned the attack, expressing its abhorrence and unequivocal condemnation in an announcement.
“This mindless and criminal act against an institution that is a symbol of Greek-French friendship and France’s contribution to the cultural and intellectual life of Greece is doomed to fail.
Contrary to its intention, this barbaric and incomprehensible act will strengthen even further the deep-rooted friendship between the peoples of Greece and France, and the close cooperation between their governments,” the ministry’s announcement said.
French Ambassador to Greece Christophe Chantepy urged French nationals living in Greece to be calm but maintain a “normal level of alertness”. He said Greek authorities had responded promptly to the incident and that there were no victims.
“Tonight the French School of Athens and the French Institute of Greece were targets of arson. We did not mourn any human victims. The material damage was limited due to the swift response of the fire brigade.
Greek authorities responded immediately and have ordered an investigation. The embassy will be in constant contact with them.
As always, I am at your service and I call on you to calmly show the normal level of alertness,” the announcement said.
The attack was also condemned by SYRIZA and opposition parties in the country