Dec 10, 12:55 PM EST

Police in Athens destroy bomb outside bank, attack allegedly in solidarity with hunger striker

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Violent protests in Greece

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greek police destroyed a bomb outside an Athens bank Wednesday, allegedly planted in solidarity with a convicted bank robber who held a monthlong hunger strike because he wanted leave to attend business school classes.

Police said an anonymous caller alerted authorities to the timer-activated bomb, in the northern Aghia Paraskevi suburb, early Wednesday. Authorities cordoned off the area, and destroyed the device in a controlled explosion.

The caller, who gave a 30-minute warning, said the attack was in solidarity for Nikos Romanos, an anarchist, who had refused to take food since Nov. 10. and is in an Athens hospital. Authorities had rejected Romanos' bids to attend university classes.

Romanos, 21, called off the strike later Wednesday, after Parliament passed special legislation that would allow him to take his course through a combination of distance learning and physical attendance using electronic tagging.

His strike sparked protests by anarchist and left-wing supporters, and a string of arson attacks on banks and Athens public buses.

Romanos' case drew particular attention as he was a close friend of a 15-year-old boy shot dead by police in 2008, in an incident that touched off weeks of rioting by angry youths. Romanos had been present at the shooting, the anniversary of which last week saw fresh street fighting between protesters and police in central Athens.

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