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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Arsonists Attack Big Business

ATHENS, Greece -- A group calling itself Post-Midnight Slalom claimed responsibility Wednesday for a spate of arson attacks to protest the big business ties to next year's Olympics.

"We baptize your Olympic Games the whore of the multinational companies," the previously unknown group said in a statement published by the Athens daily Eleftherotypia.

In a typewritten statement, the group also said they were acting in response to the arrest in June of seven rioters during a European Union summit and the trial of 19 suspected members of the deadly November 17 terrorist cell.

The Tuesday firebombings -- which targeted the homes of a politician and professor and two political offices -- were a setback for authorities trying to portray Athens as a safe host for the August 2004 Olympics.

Arson attacks using butane canisters are common in Athens, often targeting banks, shops or diplomatic vehicles late at night without risking casualties. But the coordination of the latest strikes suggested a more aggressive group could be forming. There are also fears the attacks could be part of a growing backlash to the trial of the suspected members of November 17, which is blamed for 23 murders and more than 100 bombings since 1975.

Some groups, including rights advocates, have objected to Greece's stricter anti-terrorism laws and procedures such as trial by judges but no jury to avoid possible intimidation of civilians.