Militants target drug execs in wide range of attacks

Animal rights militants in Europe have been doing more than target Novartis CEO Daniel Vasella in a series of attacks aimed at family graves and a summer home. The Wall Street Journal reports that the cars of as many as eight Novartis employees have been destroyed in Switzerland and Germany, houses have been spray painted with angry epithets and more acts of vandalism have been aimed at employees of Schering-Plough, Pfizer, Bayer and Barclays bank. In one case, an employee of a European stock exchange that lists companies engaged in animal research has been hit with arson.

Several of the attacks involved the home and property of Novartis board member Ulrich Lehner in Germany. Groups have claimed credit for spray painting his home, pouring paint stripper on his Porsche and later returning to place incendiary devices under two other cars.  

The attacks mark a new phase in a war that pits small groups of militants against drug companies that are involved in animal research work. Law enforcement officials cracked down on activists in the UK, prompting a shift in the battle front to the continent, according to the Journal. 

The attacks first hit the headlines after Novartis said that the ashes of Vasella's mother had been stolen and family graves were desecrated around the time that his summer home in Austria was set on fire. The group MFAH Austria claimed on Wednesday that it had set the home on fire after dousing it with gasoline.

- read the report in the Wall Street Journal