Police are investigating whether a bomb attack in Paralimni may be linked to arson on a nearby beach, where public sun beds and umbrellas were set on fire.
According to media reports, over 50 sun beds and 20 umbrellas were set on fire Wednesday around 2:10am near a dog beach in Paralimni’s Kappari area, while ten minutes later a car bomb went off outside a home owned by the town’s mayor, Theodoros Pirillis.
Police investigators who went to the residence found two vehicles inside the garage, one of them damaged by the explosion, while the housemaid who lives in the residence was reportedly unharmed.
The explosion was heard around 2:20am while ten minutes earlier, four separate fires were started on a dog beach in Kappari, destroying sun beds and umbrellas that were being provided free of charge to beachgoers in accordance with a mayoral initiative surrounded in controversy.
Mayor uncertain about linking bomb to arson
Although the distance between the locations of the two incidents is about ten minutes, Pirillis initially expressed some reservations as to the drawing of any conclusion on whether the two attacks were linked.
'I won’t be pushed around or terrorised and I won’t stop fighting against special interests that deal my town out” Pirillis said
The mayor told police he was unsure whether the bomb attack and the fires were instigated by the same person, citing more sinister motives and making references to possible financial disputes.
“Throughout my tenure as mayor, I have been interrogated, defamed, and targeted on the basis of anonymous complaints. Nothing was found against me and so they have decided to attack my house,” Pirillis said.
However, he later said on radio that he believed it was not unlikely that the same person could have carried out the two attacks, noting however his suspicion that one of the incidents could have been a diversion attempt by the perpetrator.
“It is time for some officials to reflect on this,” he said in a statement.
“The mayor of Paralimni won’t be pushed around or terrorised and he won’t stop fighting against special interests that deal his town out, right down to the last minute of his tenure,” Pirillis added.
Past riddled with string of beach incidents
A month earlier, also after midnight on the first Tuesday of the month, a beach in the same area was the target of vandalism, where sun beds were thrown into the water and umbrellas knocked down at Glyki Nero.
And a week prior to the vandalism, thirteen other sun beds at one local beach and two umbrellas at another one were set on fire, according to CNA News Agency.
Local resentment over beach decision
Prior to the string of incidents, Paralimni officials declared that some local beaches -Glyki Nero, Kappari, and Freedom Beach- would be offering free umbrellas and sun beds to beachgoers from July through mid October.
But Pirillis also had crews tear down a number of sheds and tents, which were illegally placed on the beach by Dherynia residents in the area.
The mayor stopped short of assigning blame for the act of vandalism at that time, saying the “police ought to carry out their investigation and there is no need to point fingers at people who could possibly not be responsible for this,” Pirillis said.
However, he added, “some people insist on wanting the beach all to themselves for private use, but we won’t do them this favour.”
Police spokesperson Andreas Angelides said the Chief of Police got involved Wednesday morning during a conference meeting, calling for an investigation into the case including any past history.
It is not clear which police precinct will be in charge, but police said crime investigators would be in direct communication and cooperation with the mayor in Paralimni.