Athens riots and protests well underway

by Alister POOLE on May 11, 2011

 

Police in Athens clashed with gangs of demonstrators today, while thousands marched through the Greek capital in protest at austerity measures taken by the government.

Dozens of youths in hooded jumpers hurled stones as well as Molotov cocktails at police, who responded by unleashing rounds of tear gas at them. The march, demanded by Greek unions, is the main part of a strike that is scheduled to last 24 hours and has brought the vast majority of public service to a complete halt while paralysing transport networks.

Police say that several arrests were made and that two of their officers are in hospital with injuries. Correspondents say that about 20,000 people participated in the march, which witnesses say was mostly peaceful. Athens wasn’t the only Greek city that saw protests however as demonstrations were also exhibited in Thessaloniki, one of the north’s largest cities.

The strike was called shortly after the Greek government put forward a new austerity package aimed at reducing the budget deficit, as well as easing the country’s debt crisis. In opposition, unions say that such policies are doing nothing but making Greece’s problems far worse than they already are.

The violent clashes occurred near to where George Papaconstantinou, the country’s Finance Minister, was meeting with senior inspectors from the EU and the International Monetary Fund.

Among other things, Greeks are angry over losses of jobs, tax increases and pension or wage cuts that have been enforced by the government as a way of meeting the agreed terms of a much-publicised international bail-out

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