image copyrightReutersimage captionThe attack took place at the Petraki Monastery in Athens

A priest has been arrested in Athens after he threw acid on seven bishops of the Greek Orthodox Church, police say.

The attack took place during a disciplinary hearing against the 36-year-old priest on Wednesday afternoon, according to police.

Three bishops are being treated in hospital for the burns, mostly on their faces.

A policeman, who ran to help the bishops, was also taken to hospital.

The suspect, a priest who risked being expelled from the church, was accused of being involved in drug trafficking, according to the ANA press agency.

The bishops were meeting to discuss defrocking him after he was allegedly discovered to be in possession of 1.8 grams of cocaine in June 2018, according to local media.

image copyrightReutersimage captionThe attack happened during a disciplinary hearing at the monastery

The priest had brought "large bottle of corrosive liquid" to the session at the Petraki Monastery in central Athens, newspaper Ta Nea reported.

A guard, who managed to catch the priest at the gate of the monastery, also suffered burns and was taken to hospital.

Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias visited the victims in hospital and said one will be transferred for plastic surgery.

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou condemned the attack, while Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke to the head of the Greek Church, Archbishop of Athens Ieronymos II.

Mr Mitsotakis said he was "deeply sad" and assured the bishop that "the state will offer all possible medical assistance for the victims' speedy recovery".