Violent clashes break out in Athens in strike against government

10:29, March 12, 2010      

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Violent clashes between police and groups of hooded youths broke out in central Athens on Thursday, marring a massive demonstration against the government austerity measures.

At least 40,000 protesters marched in front of the parliament. Greece's two umbrella unions, private-sector GSEE and public-sector ADEDY, called the third general strike in a month in Greece to protest the cash-strapped government for slashing spending and raising taxes. The two unions represent more than five million workers across the country.

A few dozen young men wearing black hoods clashed with police officers and other protesters. Youths from anarchist groups threw rocks at riot police who responded with stun grenades and tear gas.

Another group of youths broke more than a dozen shop windows and set cars on fire near the first University of Athens.

"It's so bad, when a small minority of troublemakers get all the attention, while people should focus on the large participation of Greek citizens in the strike," 55-year-old Kleopatra Anagnostopoulou told Xinhua.

Police say at least nine suspected rioters were detained while two officers were injured.

Flights were grounded, schools and hospitals closed and public transportation blocked due to the strike.

Television and radio channels across the country have also changed programs, as journalist unions also took part in the strike.

"We agreed to change, not to sink. We demand another solution to our problems, " Spiros Koutsoukis, a 38-year-old postman told Xinhua.

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