City of Poros (ship)

City of Poros (ship)
Attack on the City of Poros
Location off Athens, Greece
Date July 11, 1988
20.30 p.m.
Target Cruise ship City of Poros
Attack type Attack by armed gunmen
Death(s) 9
Injured 98
Perpetrator(s) Abu Nidal Organisation

The City of Poros was a Greek passenger ferry which ran from the island of Aegina to Faliro a port in the Athens suburbs. The Cycladic Cruises' ship was roughly 200 feet (60 m) long, and ran the regular 16 mile (26 km) trip between the two harbours everyday, with a carrying capacity of 500 passengers. In the evening of the 11 July 1988, the ship was stormed by Palestinian gunmen, who killed nine tourists. On the day of the attack, there were 471 persons on board the ship.


Pier explosion

Earlier on the day of the attack, the pier that the City of Poros usually berthed at in Piraeus was rocked by the detonation of a large car bomb. Due to the isolated location of the pier and the lack of tourists waiting on it (as the ship was at sea), the only fatalities were the two occupants of the vehicle, both of whom were killed instantly.[1] The bomb's intended target was almost certainly the ship, but the plan of attack will never be known, due to the premature detonation. It is possible that the attack which followed was a "Plan B" after the failure of the car bomb.


Three gunmen had boarded the ship as part of its normal intake of passengers at Aegina, and then had waited until the ship had left the port and was three miles into its journey before they attacked, at approximately 8.30pm. Using concealed automatic weapons and hand grenades, they opened fire on their fellow passengers, who scattered in panic, many jumping overboard, which inadvertently caused many casualties amongst people who became caught in the ship's propellers.[2] Shortly after the attack began, the three gunmen were collected by their accomplices from the ship by a speedboat which pulled alongside before rapidly disappearing.

The rescue operation was carried out by those unhurt on board the ship and by other ships which soon arrived upon the transmission of a distress signal from the City of Poros. Many of those in the water were rescued by these ships and taken to shore, where emergency services were waiting to transport the worst injuries to hospitals. The final toll was nine killed and 98 injured, many seriously. The dead were mostly tourists, including four from France and one each from Denmark, Sweden and Hungary, as well as two Greeks.[3]


The subsequent investigation into the operation uncovered evidence which pointed at both the Abu Nidal Organisation (who claimed responsibility for both the bombing and the ferry attack), and their supposed sponsors, Libya. The weapons used in the attack were of Libyan origin, and at least one of the assailants entered Greece on a Libyan passport.[4] There was also a strong motive for both the ANO and Libya. A case had been running in the Greek courts concerning the known ANO member Muhammed Rashid, who was fighting extradition to the United States for terrorist activities. The Greek justice Minister later arranged for his release and transport to Libya,[5] which was at this time engaged in a terrorist campaign against Western Europe and the USA as part of their revenge for Operation El Dorado Canyon.

A year later, two ANO members were arrested and convicted of involvement in the attack,[6] and further charges were later brought against a Lebanese man arrested in Germany,[7] but the men who planned this operation mostly escaped official justice.


  1. ^ "Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) attacked Maritime target (July 11, 1988, Greece)". MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base. 2001. Retrieved May 5, 2006. [dead link]
  2. ^ "1988 Anti-Shipping Activity Messages (ASAM)". Anti-Shipping Activity Messages. Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved May 5, 2006. 
  3. ^ Karmon, Ely (2002). "The Iraqi Regime's Links to Terrorism". The Institute for Counter-Terrorism. Archived from the original on February 20, 2006. Retrieved May 5, 2006. 
  4. ^ Staff writer (August 8, 1988). "A Smoking Gun Points at Libya". World Notes TERRORISM (TIME magazine).,10987,968093,00.html. Retrieved 2006-05-05. 
  5. ^ "Greece: 1988 overview". patterns of global terrorism. MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base. Retrieved May 5, 2006. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) attacked Maritime target (July 11, 1988, Greece)". MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base. 2001. Retrieved May 5, 2006. [dead link]
  7. ^ Staff writer (November 17, 1992). "Germans Arrest Palestinian In 1988 Cruise Ship Attack". New York Times. Retrieved 2006-05-05. 

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