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Greek Police Suspect Mysterious Guerrilla Group in British Diplomat Killing

Aired June 8, 2000 - 2:36 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: Overseas, terrorists are suspected of gunning down a top British diplomat in Greece. Police say Stephen Saunders was shot twice as he drove to work today.

CNN's Tom Mintier reports Greek authorities suspect a guerrilla group that calls itself "November 17."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM MINTIER, CNN LONDON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): The killing occurred on a busy Athens street Thursday morning. The British diplomat, 55-year-old Brigadier General Stephenson Saunders, was shot by two men riding a motorcycle, one armed with a .45-caliber pistol. Police recovered several spent shell cartridges from the scene, which they say are of the type used by a terrorist group called November 17.

GEOFF HOON, BRITISH DEFENSE SECY.: I've already spoken to the Greek defense minister, who has extended the condolences of the Greek government. But I will certainly be urging the Greek authorities to bring the perpetrators of this appalling act to justice quickly.

MINTIER: The British military attache was riding in an unmarked white sedan. It did not have diplomatic license plates, a practice many embassies have taken to protect employees in Greece.

AKIS TSOHATZOPOULOS, GREEK DEFENSE MINISTER: The Greek services, they are cooperating worldwide, even with Europeans as U.S.A. police services, because the enemy is a common one, that terrorism has not a color, has not a nation, is international, and we have to face together against this challenge.

MINTIER: November 17 is believed to be responsible for the deaths of at least 20 people, including four Americans, since 1975. One of the Americans was a CIA station chief. Terrorism experts say little is known about the inner workings of November 17.

PAUL BEAVER, "JANE'S DEFENSE WEEKLY": This is the only terrorist organization in the world that we don't know the names of the leaders, we don't know anything about them other than about you could put onto one side of paper. Basically, they've never been infiltrated, they've never been caught. We don't even have any idea who is behind it.

MINTIER: What is well known are the attacks. In 1994, an American life insurance company. Three years earlier, five tour busses were bombed by November 17 in Athens. Also in 1991, November 17 claimed responsibility for a rocket attack against the American Express office in Greece.

(on camera): The group November 17 takes its name from a 1973 student-led uprising against the military government at that time. The current government has been criticized widely for not cracking down on terrorism. This latest incident will do little to improve things, but the Greek foreign minister has pledged to find those responsible for this latest act of violence.

Tom Mintier, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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