Athens - The home of Germany's ambassador to Greece was sprayed with gunfire from automatic weapons early on Monday, in a suspected terrorist attack the government said was aimed at hurting the country's image before it takes over the presidency of the European Union. No one was hurt.
Anti-terrorism police cordoned off streets around the official residence of Ambassador Wolfgang Dold following the pre-dawn shooting on a busy road in the Halandri area of the capital. They recovered more than 60 bullet casings from the scene.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Six people were briefly detained for questioning and released without charge while investigators were examining video from surveillance cameras as well as a stolen car found near the scene of the shooting, police said.
As Greece's biggest bailout lender, Germany is often the subject of strong criticism in the country, which is suffering through a sixth year of recession and tough austerity measures imposed as a condition of its rescue loans.
Dold, a 55-year-old career diplomat who has three children, thanked the government for the police's "swift response".
"To those responsible for this action, I state it will not affect the close and friendly relations between our two countries, and it will not reverse the country's economic recovery", he said in a statement.
Foreign diplomats were repeatedly targeted by far-left terrorist groups active from the mid-1970s but such attacks have been rare since a major police crackdown on radical militants that started more than a decade ago and resulted in multiple arrests and convictions.
On Monday, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras telephoned German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well the German ambassador following the attack. The government said it was meant to tarnish the country's reputation during its January to June 2014 presidency of the EU.