Attacks on Greek ruling party offices ahead of debt talks

Attacks on Greek ruling party offices ahead of debt talks Athens: Arsonists attacked offices of Greece's ruling Socialist party in Athens on Friday as the country suffered a new credit blow ahead of a parliament debate on how to confront its massive debt.

Credit rating agency Standard and Poor's downgraded two Greek banks and put two others on negative watch.

International ratings agencies have delivered a series of heavy blows to Greece's standing in recent weeks.

Prime Minister George Papandreou has ordered major austerity measures to cut Greece's USD 436 billion debt that has roiled markets and pushed down the euro currency which Greece shares as a member of the eurozone.

The attacks on the six Socialist party offices in Athens came hours after a day of protests by communist-led unions against the austerity measures.

Minor fire damage was caused by police gas canisters and small incendiary bombs at offices in the Dafni, Melissia and Palio Faliro districts. All the attacks appeared to be coordinated.

Markets were jolted meanwhile by a new credit downgrade. Standard and Poor's cut Eurobank and Alpha Bank to BBB from BBB-plus and had placed National Bank of Greece, the country's biggest private institution, and Bank of Piraeus, its fifth biggest, on negative watch.