Athens: A fugitive ex-member of a notorious Greek radical leftist group was planning an armed attack on Greece`s main prison when he was captured this weekend, police said on Sunday.
Christodoulos Xiros, formerly of the defunct November 17 movement, was targeting the maximum-security Korydallos jail and had amassed a collection of eight Kalashnikov rifles, rocket propelled grenades, several kilos of explosives and bomb-making materials in preparation for the attack, the authorities said.
"Greek police prevented a major attack against the heart of the Greek prison system," Public Safety Minister Vassilis Kikilias told reporters.
Xiros was given multiple life sentences for his role in deadly attacks with the November 17 group before he was released in January 2013 for a nine-day New Year`s leave, then went on the run.
Police recaptured the 56-year-old Saturday as he rode a bike, armed with a loaded pistol, in a southern suburb of Greece`s capital. He surrendered without a fight.
According to the head of Greek police, Dimitrios Tsaknakis, officers found "manuscripts describing plans to approach and escape, as well as alternative routes" at the house in which Xiros had been living several months. Police said they also discovered the weapons there.
Before its breakup in 2002, November 17 was one of Greece`s most violent far-left organisations, claiming responsibility for 23 assassinations during its 27-year span, including the 1975 killing of the CIA`s Athens station chief, Richard Welch.
Shortly after he absconded last year, Xiros appeared in an online video berating Greece`s government over the austerity policies it enacted at the behest of international creditors and threatened to "fire the guerrilla shotgun against those who stole our life and sold our dreams."
Several months later, authorities found DNA on a parcel bomb sent to a police station in the city of Itea that matched traces lifted from the car Xiros used to go into hiding.
Authorities suspect Xiros began working with a group calling itself "Conspiracy of Cells of Fire", which claimed responsibility for the parcel bomb -- which was made safe by police -- and expressed solidarity with the fugitive.