10 in U.S. Air Force Hurt by Car Bomb Near Bus in Athens

Associated Press

A car bomb exploded near a bus carrying U.S. Air Force personnel in suburban Athens today and an Air Force spokesman said nine Americans on the bus and the Greek driver were injured.

Senior Airman John Hancock, press spokesman for the U.S. Air Force Hellenikon Air Base, said a female member of the U.S. Air Force who was walking by when the bomb went off also was hurt.

He said the Americans' injuries were minor. The driver was reported most seriously hurt.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, the second attack on U.S. servicemen in a bus in Greece in five months.

Witnesses told police two men on a motorcycle set off the bomb with a remote-controlled device as the bus passed by in the seaside resort of Voula.

Greek police initially reported at least four Americans and the driver were hurt, but later said 11 people were injured--nine Americans, the driver and one American passer-by. The Americans are assigned to the Hellenikon base, which is adjacent to Athens International Airport, police said.

Bomb in Small Car

Police said a small car laden with explosives blew up at 4:48 p.m. as the bus neared the Apollon Palace Hotel in Voula. The hotel is used by the U.S. military for billeting personnel on temporary assignment in Athens.

The blast blew out the bus windshield and slightly damaged the front end.

A police official said the unmarked bus had been on a regular six-mile run from the air base to the hotel. The police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said witnesses reported two men wearing crash helmets fled the area on a green motorcycle seconds after the explosion.

Scores of U.S. military personnel were at the Apollon Hotel pool at the time of the blast about 650 feet away. They were in no danger, but the explosion was clearly heard at pool side, a hotel resident told police.

Joint Inquiry Begun

State Department spokesman Charles Redman said in Washington that U.S. and Greek authorities began a joint investigation to discover who was responsible for the attack. He said there was no indication the bombing was linked to Iranian threats against the United States because of U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf.

The bombing "underlines the need for international cooperation against the scourge of terrorism," Redman said.

Last April, a Greek military bus carrying 25 Americans to Hellenikon from a NATO artillery unit outside the capital was badly damaged by a remote-controlled bomb as it drove by on a main road. The blast injured 12 U.S. military personnel, four civilians and two Greeks.

A left-wing Greek terrorist group--the November 17 organization--claimed it bombed the bus to protest the presence of U.S. bases in Greece.

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