Athens lockdown as police focus on terror concerns
Police have been placed on high alert in the Greek capital in anticipation of Barack Obama’s visit. During the two-day visit of the outgoing US president, which will start today, access to some parts of central Athens will be restricted and there will be a ban on public gatherings, as authorities are concerned about the prospect of a terrorist attack.
About 4,000 police officers will be deployed as major avenues and roads in downtown Athens will be closed to cars and in some cases pedestrian traffic. In addition to Greek security services, some 300 American agents will be deployed in the capital to protect the president.
Police yesterday announced a ban on public gatherings in central Athens as well as the wider Vouliagmeni area, south of the capital, where the luxury hotel that the US president will be staying at is located.
Speaking to Kathimerini, a police source said authorities had maximized security to prevent a terrorist attack on Obama’s convoy.
“There will be police officers, in uniforms and plainclothes, along the route to keep a look out for suspicious movements. This is because we are concerned about the prospect of a protest or even an attack against the American president’s motorcade,” the source said.
Authorities have inspected and sealed off the areas that Obama is scheduled to visit during his stay, including the Acropolis Museum and the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Foundation.
The National Garden, several university buildings and 28 schools in the center have also been closed. Several squats are under close monitoring although police stopped short of conducting pre-emptive arrests.
Commercial flights have been temporarily suspended within the Athens FIR from 4.36 a.m. today until 15.42 tomorrow.