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SPIEGEL ONLINE

05/16/2012 12:55 PM

Arson against Austerity

Leftists Target Head of EU's Greece Task Force

Agroup of left-wing extremists in Germany has claimed responsibility for an arson attack aimed atthe EU task force leader for Greece. His efforts to implement painful reformsthere are unwanted, said the group, which has also threatened further attacks.

As head of the European Union task force that is helping Athens implement tough structural reforms, Horst Reichenbach is an unpopular man in Greece. Now it would seem that even in his native Germany the official can't escape his critics.

Unknown perpetrators attacked his home in Potsdam, near Berlin, on Sunday night, torching his wife's car and lobbing red paint at the property, a police spokesman told news agency Reuters late on Tuesday.

Left-wing extremists claimed responsibility for the attack on Tuesday, and the investigation points to a politically motivated crime, the police spokesman said.

The car destroyed in the arson attack belonged to Reichenbach's wife, Dagmar Roth-Behrendt, who is a member of the European Parliament. In a letter to daily Berliner Morgenpost, a group calling itself "Friends of Loukanikos" wrote that the fire was a message for the task force leader.

"Loukanikos" is a scrappy stray dog famous for taking part in Athens protests in recent years. He and a handful of other "riot dogs" like him have become symbols of the Greek protests, gaining fans worldwide.

Letter Threatens Troika

In their letter, the group claims to have thrown both stones and paint at Reichenbach's home, in addition to burning Roth-Behrendt's BMW. The attack was apparently a response to EU austerity measures, which have caused an "extreme worsening" of conditions for Greeks, they wrote.

The "Friends of Loukanikos" also threaten the so-called troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), according to the Berliner Morgenpost. Police did not verify whether the letter was authentic.

The vehicle targeted by the arsonists has since been towed, and neither Roth-Behrendt nor Reichenbach were available for comment on Tuesday.

Police reportedly suspect that the attack may have been carried out by members of Berlin's anarchist scene, but a prosecutor declined to provide further details to daily Bild. "We are just at the beginning of the investigation," he said.

Meanwhile, Greece faces new elections in June after a third round of negotiations to form a government collapsed on Tuesday night. With that, Greece is likely to see further political uncertainty that could result in a possible exit from the euro.

kla -- with wire reports

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