Gunmen opened fire outside the offices of Greece's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party in Athens late Friday, killing two men and injuring a third, police said as the government vowed to stop any "settling of scores".
Two unknown assailants parked their motorbike close to a local office of the far-right party before approaching the victims, firing and then fleeing on the bike, police said.
The two men killed were aged 22 and 25, police said, without giving details on their identities or political affiliation.
Local Greek media reported that the victims were members of Golden Dawn. The party had planned a meeting for Friday night in the Athens suburb of Neo Iraklio, where the shooting took place.
The pair were hit by three bullets each in the head and chest. One of them was killed instantly, while the second succumbed to his injuries in hospital, the health ministry said, adding that a third young man was injured and taken to hospital.
The attack happened about a month and a half after the killing of an anti-fascist musician by a self-confessed neo-Nazi.
The September 18 murder of hip hop artist Pavlos Fyssas by a Golden Dawn supporter had triggered public outrage, putting pressure on Greek authorities, who launched a crackdown on the party.
Greece's public order minister Nikos Dendias on Friday expressed his "sadness at the death of the young men".
"We will not allow our country to become a place to settle scores," added Dendias.
Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said the assassins would be pursued "relentlessly".
A statement from Golden Dawn published on its website denounced the attack, and said "the government had refused to grant police protection to the party despite threats" against its members.
The government's crackdown on the party has led to six Golden Dawn lawmakers being indicted for involvement in a "criminal organisation".
Three of them -- Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos, deputy party leader Christos Pappas and party MP Yiannis Lagos -- are being held in a high-security Athens prison on charges of running or belonging to a criminal group.
Parliament last week suspended state funding to the party as "the leader... or a tenth of the elected members are under investigation for constituting or participating in a criminal organisation".
Court documents have linked Golden Dawn to two murders, including that of Fyssas, three attempted murders and numerous assaults.
Witnesses have also testified that senior party members were involved in migrant beatings, extortion and possible arms smuggling.
As police patrolled the area of the attack Friday night, about 50 Golden Dawn supporters held a brief demonstration at the murder scene, an AFP correspondent reported.
Authorities said no one has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack, and Greek leftists on social media have urged followers not to jump to conclusions that it involved opponents of the far-right party.
Golden Dawn is Greece's third-most-popular party, with 18 seats in parliament.
Formerly on the fringe of Greek politics, the group boosted its popularity by tapping into widespread anger over immigration and austerity reforms in debt-wracked Greece, which is slogging through its sixth year of recession and where youth unemployment stands at 60 percent.
In the investigation of the party, a number of police officers have also been arrested for allegedly aiding the group or turning a blind eye to its activities.
CihanLast Mod: 02 Kasım 2013, 17:23