Two Wounded by New Letter Bombs as Letter Bomb Trial Continues
VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ Letter bombs seriously injured a respected refugee activist and a foreign-born doctor Monday. The attacks followed a spate of right-wing terrorism that has plagued Austria for two years.
The bombs exploded as prominent targets of previous mail bombs testified Monday at a trial of two men accused of the earlier attacks.
All of the mail bombs have been directed either at members of minority groups or people who have helped foreigners.
Police said Syrian-born doctor Mahmoud Abou-Roumie, 47, seriously injured his left hand when he opened a letter bomb in his office in Stronsdorf, the Austria Press Agency reported. It said Abou-Roumie was an Austrian citizen who had lived in Austria since 1979.
The second bomb injured an activist whose project to integrate 145 refugee families with the 5,500 residents of Poysdorf won a prize last year from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
Maria Loley, 71, was injured in both hands and in the face when she opened a letter at a post office in Poysdorf.
The APA later published a letter Loley received recently that threatened to set houses on fire and proclaimed: ``Death to the Bosnians!″ Most of the refugee families in her project were from the former Yugoslavia.
Both victims were hospitalized. The two towns are located about 40 miles north of Vienna.
A police warning reached the town of Mistelbach, just south of Poysdorf, allowing officials to discover a third bomb addressed to another non-native doctor before it went off.
Monday’s bombings bring to 11 the number of people injured in letter bomb attacks in Austria. The violence culminated in a bombing in February that killed four Gypsies. That case has not been solved.
In December 1993, Helmut Zilk, then mayor of Vienna, lost part of his left hand to a letter bomb. Three other people also were injured.
Zilk and the head of Austria’s Greens party, Madeleine Petrovic, the target of a 1993 letter bomb that was intercepted, testified Monday in the trial of two men accused in the attacks.
Both said they had received anonymous phone calls threatening more letter bombs if they testified against Peter Binder and Alexander Radl, who have been on trial since Sept. 11.
Prosecutors accuse Binder, an electrician, of making the 1993 letter bombs and Radl of helping him. They say the two were members of Austria’s most active neo-Nazi group.
President Thomas Klestil, meanwhile, warned against a ``radicalization″ of Austrian politics, and other politicians condemned Monday’s bombings as attacks against democracy.
New elections are being held Dec. 17. The coalition government of Social Democrats and the conservative Peoples’ Party collapsed last week when it could not agree on a 1996 budget.
The two parties have both lost support to the right-wing Freedom Party, led by populist Joerg Haider, who has campaigned heavily against immigration.
Haider described the attacks as a ``shock,″ but told APA ``when the politically powerful in Austria are in turbulence, there are bombs.″
Opponents charge that Haider’s xenophobic policies and appeals to law and order appeal to neo-Nazis and foster terrorism.
Social Democratic Chancellor Franz Vranitzky condemned the attacks as ``cowardly.″
``We (should) stand together against those who carried out the act and against those whose business they do,″ Vranitzky said.