Greek man shoots two, takes hostages over layoff

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 01, 2012 11:26 AM
Greek man shoots two, takes hostages over layoff

ATHENS (Reuters) - An unemployed Greek man shot and injured his former boss and one other worker and took another two hostage in protest at losing his job, police said on Thursday.

Officers surrounded the small factory in northern Greece where the gunman, a 61-year-old father of two, was holding the workers hostage. Police said his captives had not been harmed.

Greeks are growing increasingly desperate as public sector spending cuts, designed to save the country from a debilitating debt crisis, exacerbate a recession now in its fifth year. Rioters last month torched and looted buildings in Athens as Greece's parliament approved austerity measures in order to secure an EU/IMF bailout.

The unnamed man shot his former colleagues with a hunting gun as he forced his way into the factory, which makes waste containers, in the northern town of Komotini, police said. The industrial town has been one of the worst hit in a country where unemployment is running at 21 percent and rising.

"He seems determined," said a police official, who asked not to be named. "We were told that he has debts and he did it because he wants his job back."

The two injured men were taken to hospital, one shot in the leg, the other hit by shrapnel to the stomach, but neither were seriously injured. A negotiator was trying to convince the man, who was laid off about seven months ago, to release his hostages, police added.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Ben Harding)