ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Police raided the offices of Greece's far-right Golden Dawn party Wednesday following a fatal stabbing by a man who authorities said admitted being involved in the party, the most serious instance of violence attributed to the extremist group.
Pavlos Fyssas, 34, a hip-hop singer identified by friends as an anti-fascist activist, died in a state hospital early Wednesday after being stabbed outside a cafe in the Keratsini area west of Athens. He suffered at least two stab wounds to the heart and ribs, authorities said.
A 45-year-old man who was arrested after being found in possession of a knife admitted to the attack, and to being involved in Golden Dawn, police said in a statement.
The party, whose senior members have expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler although they deny being a neo-Nazi group, won nearly 7 percent of the vote in general elections last year. Support has since risen to around 12 percent according to recent opinion polls.
Golden Dawn members and supporters, often clearly identifiable in black T-shirts and combat trousers, have been blamed for numerous violent attacks, mostly against dark-skinned migrants, in cities across the country. Its deputies have also frequently engaged in outbursts and name-calling in Parliament, most recently insulting Muslim members of Parliament as Turkish agents.
There have also been clashes and fights between suspected party members and anti-fascist or left-wing group supporters. Although injuries have been caused in the past, they have not been fatal until now.
"I am shaken by the event," said Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias. He said the killing and recent violent incidents involving the party, along with name-calling in Parliament, "shows in the clearest possible way the intentions of the neo-Nazi creation."
Earlier, before police announced that the suspect had identified himself as being in the party, Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris described the stabbing as a "heinous crime" and denied any party involvement. Later, party lawmaker Michalis Avranitis said the victim and the suspect had initially had an argument about a soccer match that was playing on TV in the cafe.
The attacker then apparently left the cafe, returning later and stabbing Fyssas.
"Yes, this man, as it turns out, has declared himself to be a member of Golden Dawn. But Golden Dawn has 1 million supporters. If in a restaurant, two drunken idiots have a fight and someone is stabbed, should we look at their ideology and blame that?" Avranitis said.
Witnesses at the cafe told Greek media that the attacker had left and later returned with a group of other men, whom they considered to be Golden Dawn supporters from the way they were dressed.
"We call on all political forces to raise a barrier to the vicious cycle of tension and violence," said government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou. "Democracy needs stability, cohesion and responsibility from all."
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