A strong explosion occurred before dawn at the Athens appellate court, causing material damage but no casualties at the country’s largest court complex.

Police strongly suspect the “Organisation of Popular Fighters (OLA), which was behind bomb attacks at a Eurobank Branch in central Athens, at the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), and an attempted bomb attack at the labour ministry.

Investigators believe the target was symbolic, perhaps referring to auctions of foreclosed properties. Other theories are that it may be linked to the impending trial of a 29-year-old charged with the parcel bomb that seriously injured former PM Lucas Papademos, or with the forthcoming appellate court trial of members of the Cells of Fire terrorist group.

The blast occurred at 3:25 am today, after warning telephone calls to two Athens media outlets, the website zougla.gr and the newspaper Efimerida ton Syntakton (reporters’ newspaper), a left-leaning daily.

At 2:45 am a police guard at the court saw two individuals leaving a bag on the steps near the building and taking off.

According to a Greek Police statement, an accomplice who was waiting in a getaway vehicle fired one shot in the direction of the guard, without injuring him.

The two warning calls were placed five minutes later, and the caller said there would be an explosion in 40 minutes.

The area was immediately cordoned off by police and Greek Police, which has its headquarters extremely near the court building on Alexandras Avenue, and which immediately dispatched a team of explosives experts.

The case is being treated as a terrorist incident, and it has been assigned to the counter-terrorism bureau, but no group has as yet claimed responsibility.

Speaking to the Skai television morning news programme today, Greek Police spokesman Theodoros Chronopoulos spoke of a terrorist attack and confirmed that there was serious damage to the courthouse and to buildings on the opposite side of the Avenue.