ATHENS — Gunmen on a motorcycle killed two people and wounded a third on Friday evening outside the offices of the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party in a northern suburb of Athens, the police said, and the party called it a politically motivated attack.
Greek news services speculated that the shootings signaled a possible resurgence of domestic terrorism and unrest in an economically struggling country that is heavily burdened by debts.
The gunmen pulled up outside the offices shortly after 7 p.m. and fired at three people, a police spokesman said, leaving two dead and a third hospitalized with serious injuries.
The spokesman, who was not authorized to give his name, said it was premature to say whether the attack, in the suburb of Neo Irakleio, had been political. The police said that 15 9-millimeter shell casings had been recovered, contradicting earlier reports in the Greek news media that Kalashnikov assault rifles were used in the attack.
In a statement posted on its website, Golden Dawn said the dead were “two young kids” in their mid-20s who were shot at close range. The statement suggested that the attack had a political motive. “Golden Dawn had asked for police protection for its offices, as it had received threats, but the treacherous coalition of Samaras refused,” the statement said, referring to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
The party’s statement did not identify the victims by name, noting only that it regarded them as “members of our family,” but a Golden Dawn member of Parliament, Ilias Panagiotaros, told Greek radio that the two had been party members.
A government spokesman, Simos Kedikoglou, said the killers would be caught and would face “merciless punishment,” and Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias expressed his grief. “We will not allow the country to become an arena for scores to be settled, for whatever reason,” Mr. Dendias said.
The assault was condemned by parties across the political spectrum and dominated Greek news coverage, with television stations interrupting their programming to broadcast developments.
Golden Dawn, one of Europe’s most violent far-right groups, is the focus of a criminal investigation, with its leader and an additional two members of Parliament in custody and several more facing a string of charges relating to homicides, assaults and other crimes that prosecutors have linked to the party. Last month, Greece’s Parliament voted to suspend state funding to the party.
The police issued a statement saying the force’s counterterrorism unit was investigating the killings, and the spokesman said the dead were ages 22 and 27, while the wounded victim was 29.