Dozens arrested in violent clashes in central Athens

10:31, March 12, 2010      

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Demonstrators protest in Athens, capital of Greece, on March 11, 2010. Violent clashes between police and groups of hooded youths broke out in central Athens on Thursday, marring a massive demonstration against government austerity measures aiming to tackle the cash-strapped country's economic troubles. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)

Violent clashes between police and groups of hooded youths broke out in central Athens on Thursday, marring a massive demonstration against government austerity measures aiming to tackle the cash-strapped country's economic troubles.

At least two people were injured and dozens were arrested by riot police officers during the clashes that moved from Syntagma Square in front of the parliament to Omonoia Square.

Dozens of hooded young men holding crowbars and bats broke more than a dozen shop windows and set cars and dustbins on fire. Similar scenes also occurred in other parts of Athens.

Police responded with tear gas and stun grenades.

Greece's two umbrella unions, private-sector GSEE and public-sector ADEDY, called the third general strike in a month to protest spending cuts and increased taxes. The two unions represent more than five million workers across the country.

"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.

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.

"Your salary vanishes, war ships remain" was written on banners raised by a group of young men who opposed the huge defense expenses in front of the parliament.

According to the latest polls, most Greeks denounced the austerity measures and urged the government to focus on scandals, tax evasion and speculative behaviors. But analysts in Athens said that the socialist government would insist on the implementation of its policy, under pressure from its EU partners and international markets.

Source:Xinhua
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