Greece conducting pre-Olympics mop-up of terrorists

Monday, February 3, 2003

ATHENS Greece has launched a major counter-insurgency operation including a search for members of an insurgency group believed responsible for several attacks against Greek and Western interests. The search is being conducted around Athens and several other areas of the country in an all-out effort to solve the nation's security problems before the 2004 Olympic Games.

Officials said the target of the operation has been the Revolutionary Popular Struggle, known as the ELA. They said at least five suspected ELA members were being sought.

ELA was said to have cooperated with the November 17 insurgency group, which conducted a more than 25-year campaign against Western interests in Greece and was responsible for the assassination of CIA station chief in Athens Richard Welch in 1975.

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Officials said the ELA connection to November 17 became clear after the arrest of 19 members of the latter organization.

On late Sunday, Greek authorities announced that three of the five ELA members have been captured. For the first time, the arrests were recorded for broadcast on Greek television.

ELA was regarded as the largest insurgency group in Greece in the 1980s.

It was believed to have dissolved more than five years ago after information on the group was discovered in archives by the former East German intelligence agency Stasi.

Officials said security forces expect to find and capture the rest of the ELA members within days. They said the insurgents were traced to Athens and islands in the Aegean Sea.

Greece continues to arrest suspected insurgents from the .

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