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Riot police dodge fire bombs and tear gas hurled at protesters as demonstration in Athens against cuts descends into violence: 500,000 Protest

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  • Officers were set alight  by exploding bombs as a protest descended into carnage near country’s  parliament
  • About 500,000 people  joined the anti-government rally to demonstrate against new austerity measures  in Greece
  • Police were seen fighting  with protesters in what is thought to be the biggest anti-austerity protest in a  year
  • Demonstrators set fire to  trees and smash paving stones and marble panels with hammers to use as  missiles
  • Unrest comes 24 hours  after violent demonstration in Spain, where protesters clashed with police in  Madrid

By Christine Pirovlakis

PUBLISHED:09:03 EST, 26  September 2012| UPDATED:19:46 EST, 26 September 2012

Riot police clashed with hundreds of  petrol-bomb hurling protesters in Athens yesterday as anger at austerity  measures gripped Greece.

Up to 100,000 took to the capital’s streets  during the largest anti-austerity protest seen there in more than a  year.

They marched to the Greek parliament chanting ‘EU, IMF Out!’, on the day of a general strike against a new round of cuts  demanded by foreign lenders.

SCROLL DOWN  FOR VIDEO: WARNING – VIOLENT CONTENT

On fire: A riot officer battles to extinguish flames from a petrol bomb, thrown at police during a demonstration in Athens which descended into violence todayOn fire: A riot officer battles to extinguish flames  from a petrol bomb, thrown at police during a demonstration in Athens which  descended into violence today

Tear gas and pepper spray was used by riot police against several hundred demonstrators after the violence broke out near the country's parliamentTear gas and pepper spray was used by riot police  against several hundred demonstrators after the violence broke out near the  country’s parliament

A fire bomb explodes behind a riot police squad. About 50,000 people joined the union-organised march in central Athens, held during a general strike against new austerity measures planned in the crisis-hit countryA fire bomb explodes behind a riot police squad. About  50,000 people joined the union-organised march in central Athens, held during a  general strike against new austerity measures planned in the crisis-hit  country

As the rally ended, youths dressed in  black  threw stones, chunks of marble, petrol bombs and bottles at riot  police, who  responded with tear gas and pepper spray.

Several policemen were seen on fire as the  battles continued, but it is thought that none was seriously injured.

Police chased the protesters through Syntagma  Square in front of parliament as helicopters clattered overhead.

Smoke rose from small blazes in the  streets.  One group of hooded youths could be seen setting trees on fire  in the National  Gardens, causing flames and black smoke to fill the  skyline above parliament.  About 120 people were detained.

Dina Kokou, a 54-year-old teacher and  mother  of four who lives on £800 a month, said: ‘We can’t take it any  more – we are  bleeding. We can’t raise our children like this. These tax increases and wage  cuts are killing us.’

Demonstrators banged drums as they chanted, 'People, fight, they're drinking your blood' while other protesters hurled petrol bombs at riot policeDemonstrators banged drums as they chanted, ‘People,  fight, they’re drinking your blood’ while other protesters hurled petrol bombs  at riot police

Scenes of carnage: Everyone from shopkeepers and pharmacists to teachers, customs workers and car mechanics joined the demonstration, seen as a test of public tolerance for more hardship after two years of harsh spending cuts and tax hikes

Scenes of carnage: Everyone from shopkeepers and  pharmacists to teachers, customs workers and car mechanics joined the  demonstration, seen as a test of public tolerance for more hardship after two  years of harsh spending cuts and tax hikes

A riot police officer prepares to throw a tear gas cannister at protesters during clashes near Syntagma square during a 24-hour labour strike
A demonstrator hurls a Molotov cocktail in the direction of riot police

Riot police prepare to throw a tear gas cannister at  protesters, left, and a demonstrator hurls a Molotov cocktail in the direction  of officers, right, during clashes

Fire ball: A Molotov cocktail explodes near riot police, thrown by hooded youths after the large demonstration turned violentFire ball: A Molotov cocktail explodes near riot police,  thrown by hooded youths after the large demonstration turned violent

The riots came less than 24 hours  after  similar disturbances in Spain where police fired rubber bullets at protesters in  Madrid, leaving some injured. Some demonstrators broke  down barricades and  threw rocks and bottles.

There was more violence during further  anti-austerity protests in the Spanish capital yesterday.

In Athens, protesters marched to try  to  force the government to reject demands by the country’s international lenders  for additional cuts to salaries, pensions and benefits  amounting to £9billion  in savings over the next two years, along with  another £1.5billion in taxes.

A demonstrator kicked a tear gas cannister to riot police near Syntagma square during a 24-hour labour strikeA demonstrator kicked a tear gas cannister to riot  police near Syntagma square during a 24-hour labour strike
Police attempt to disperse protesters during a massive protest march, shortly before the violence broke out near the country's parliament
Police attempt to disperse protesters during a massive protest march, shortly before the violence broke out near the country's parliament

Police attempt to disperse protesters during a massive  protest march, shortly before the violence broke out near the country’s  parliament

Demonstrators run as they clash with riot officers. About 3,000 police - twice the number usually deployed - stood guard in the centre of AthensDemonstrators run as they clash with riot officers.  About 3,000 police – twice the number usually deployed – stood guard in the  centre of Athens

The Greek Parliament building provides the backdrop as demonstrators clash with police following a union-organised rally opposing new austerity measuresThe Greek Parliament building provides the backdrop as  demonstrators clash with police following a union-organised rally opposing new  austerity measures

Greece has promised the spending cuts and tax  increases in an effort to secure its next tranche of aid from the EU and  IMF.

The 24-hour nationwide strike, called  by the  two biggest unions representing two million workers, is the first test of  whether prime minister Antonis Samaras can stand his ground.

Police estimated the demonstration was the  largest since a May 2011 protest, and among the biggest since  near-bankrupt  Greece first resorted to aid from international lenders in 2010 – which has come  at the price of painful austerity cuts.

Ships stayed docked, museums and  monuments  were shut to visitors and air traffic controllers walked off  the job for a  three-hour stoppage.

Riot police close in on a protester in Athens. Much of the union anger is directed at spending cuts worth nearly 12billion euros over the next two yearsRiot police close in on a protester in Athens. Much of  the union anger is directed at spending cuts worth nearly 12billion euros over  the next two years
A lone, masked demonstrator faces a line of riot police holding shields. The bulk of the austerity cuts is expected to come from cutting wages, pensions and welfare benefitsA lone, masked demonstrator faces a line of riot police  holding shields. The bulk of the austerity cuts is expected to come from cutting  wages, pensions and welfare benefits
A baton-wielding riot policeman hits out at retreating protesters in Athens
A fire bomb explodes among riot police during clashes in Athens

A baton-wielding riot policeman hits out at retreating  protesters, left. A fire bomb explodes among officers, right, during clashes in  the city

Train services and flights were suspended,  public offices and shops were shut, and hospitals worked on skeleton  staff.

In another significant move towards  EU ‘fiscal union’, eurozone leaders are to discuss establishing a  central budget  designed to help weak economies within the single  currency area. It would be  funded by rerouting a slice of national taxes collected by eurozone members to  Brussels.

The UK, which is not a member of the  euro,  will not contribute to the fund. But it will raise concerns that  other  countries are pushing ahead with integration that could hamper  Britain’s  interests, and it could strengthen Tory Eurosceptics’ desire  to see powers ‘repatriated’ from Brussels. Yesterday it emerged that  Deputy Prime Minister  Nick Clegg has asked Tony Blair, Lord Mandelson  and David Miliband for advice  about how the UK should respond to  ever-closer union.

The demonstration in Athens came just 24 hours after similar clashes in Madrid (pictured) where protesters battled with Spanish policeThe demonstration in Athens came just 24 hours after  similar clashes in Madrid (pictured) where protesters battled with Spanish  police
Casualty: A man is seen with blood gushing from a head wound after members of the Spanish National Police baton charged anti-austerity demonstrators in MadridCasualty: A man is seen with blood gushing from a head  wound after members of the Spanish National Police baton charged anti-austerity  demonstrators in Madrid
spain on the brink.jpg

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Ralph Turchiano

I have a strong affinity for the sciences which led me to create my sites. My compulsion for the past decade has been reviewing literally every peer-reviewed research article. Which can easily be validated by following my posts. To me, science is where the real news is, as it will mold our destiny beyond that of politics or economics. 😉 Please feel free to e-mail: 161803p314159@gmail.com
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