Photo by Reuters
Blowback from the Greek financial crisis has engulfed Microsoft. Gunmen firebombed the software giant's Athens headquarters on Wednesday, gutting the ground floor of the four-story building, Reuters reported. The violence underscored the impact of the crisis as the country struggles to contend with crippling debt that has left more than one in five Greeks out of work.
At 4:45 a.m., at least two attackers carrying guns and an automatic rifle kept security guards at bay while they set fire to a van carrying three gas canisters and five cans of gasoline, Reuters reported. There were no injuries. Damage was estimated at $75,000.
Microsoft confirmed the attack in a statement emailed to ReadWriteWeb, saying the assailants had driven the van through the entrance of the building and then set it on fire. "Our priority is our people and we are grateful that no one was injured and that all employees are safe," the statement said. "We are awaiting the completion of the police investigation in order to acquire a fuller view of the situation."
Police were investigating the attack. While arrests are pending, speculation about suspects pointed to leftist militants with a history of violence in the Mediterranean country. The attack occurred on the eve of a European summit dealing with the regional debt crisis that could result in Greece leaving the European Union and also threatens the financial stability of Italy, Spain and Portugal.
Firebombings appear to be a weapon of choice among Greek radicals. Police have reported a surge in such attacks stemming from anti-government protests over severe austerity measures, according to the UK news outlet The Telegraph. The belt tightening is a condition imposed by the EU and the International Monetary Fund in return for a financial bailout.
Such attacks have typically targeted government buildings, banks, embassies and foreign companies. In April, a homemade firebomb seriously damaged the ground floor of the government's administrative reform ministry.