Booby-trapped car explodes outside Bank of Greece: Police

ATHENS (AFP) - A booby-trapped car exploded outside the Bank of Greece in central Athens on Thursday but no one was injured in the blast, police said, as Greece was set to return to the debt markets after a four-year absence.

The car which was parked on the sidewalk facing the central bank building blew up around 0255 GMT (10.55am Singapore time). The building is close to the office of Greece's international lenders.

Police said the car, a Nissan, had been stolen and was fitted with 75 kilos of explosives.

Internet news website Zougla and the Efymerida ton Syndakton newspaper had been informed of the planned attack by telephone one hour before the explosion.

The blast came a day before a visit to Athens by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the head of Europe's largest economy who played a key role in ensuring Greece did not crash out of the eurozone at the height of the debt crisis two years ago.

Greece announced on Wednesday it would return to the debt markets on the same day protesters launched the first anti-austerity strike of the year, crippling key services across the country.

Athens' move was welcomed by the International Monetary Fund, which along with the European Union and the European Central Bank has provided monetary support for the troubled economy.

Greece is frequently rocked by blasts generally attributed to anarchist groups.