Athens to impose no-fly zone a week before Olympics

ATHENS: Athens will impose a no-fly zone over the city a week before the Olympics and has drawn up contingency plans to shoot down hijacked planes than could be used in a Sept 11-style attack, a senior Greek air defence official said on Tuesday. 

“This (no-fly zone) will start on Aug 7, 8, or 9 – close to the Olympics,'' Air Force Brig. Gen. Dimitris Mandilis told The Associated Press. 

Mandilis is in charge of five air defence sites which include US-made Patriot missiles and have been set up to protect Athens and the northern city of Thessaloniki during the games. 

He said an exhaustive range of potential threats would be looked within a 150km radius of Athens' main Olympic stadium. 

“The threats we're considering include renegade aircraft, missiles ... gliders, kites, remote-controlled planes, unmanned craft and others,'' Mandilis said. 

“Any order to engage and shoot down these (incoming threats) rests with the government and a committee headed by the prime minister.'' 

The Patriot sites – three around Athens, two in Thessaloniki and one on the Aegean Sea island of Skyros – were placed on alert July 1. The status will not change until Oct 5. 

One of the facilities in Athens is at Tatoi air base, next to the Olympic Village. 

Other air defence systems being used for Olympic security include the French Crotale and Russian Tor systems. – AP 

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