Greek protesters hurl firebombs at police

22nd December 2008, Comments 0 comments

A group threw stones and Molotov cocktails at police and set fire to garbage bins, acts often seen in the Exarchia district since a teenager's killing.

Athens -- Clashes between youths and police continued into the night Sunday around Athens Polytechnic in the district where a teenager was killed by a policeman two weeks ago sparking nationwide unrest.

Hundreds of people gathered late Saturday in the Exarchia district at the site of the December 6 shooting of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos for a protest organized by youths occupying Athens Polytechnic.

Protesters hurled firebombs at police who responded with tear gas. A group threw stones and Molotov cocktails at police and set fire to garbage bins, acts often seen in Exarchia since the boy's killing.

Police also clashed with protesters after a separate demonstration against racism that was attended by around 200 people in Syntagma Square.

"Migrants are killed, schoolchildren are killed," said banners carried by the protesters who marched to the Greek parliament.

Protesters threw garbage at police who ringed a Christmas tree on the main square. The tree was brought in last week after the original was torched at the height of unrest following the schoolboy's death.

Later, a group threw a petrol bomb at a building housing a banking services company, although there was only minor damage and the fire was quickly brought under control.

In Nea Philadelfia, a western suburb of Athens, demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails at the police academy and torched six police vehicles parked nearby, without causing any casualties, police said.

Another group of youths set fire to garbage cans in the northern suburb of Aghia Paraskevi.

Athens and other Greek cities have seen daily protests over Grigoropoulos's death that have often become violent.

In the northern city of Thessaloniki, youths occupied a hall being used for a film festival while others pelted the city mayor with pastries, police said.

Masked youths Friday attacked the French cultural institute in Athens after about 1,000 students and communist activists staged a march to condemn a second shooting on Wednesday in which the son of a teacher's union official was slightly wounded.

Protesters demanding justice over Grigoropoulos's death continue to occupy hundreds of schools and many universities across Greece.

The Athens Polytechnic, site of a 1973 student uprising that hastened the fall of military dictatorship in Greece, is among the occupied campuses.

Meanwhile, German police on Saturday arrested 10 people and suffered four injuries in fighting with demonstrators staging a rally in Hamburg in support of the Greek protests, officials said.

About 1,300 police were mobilized to monitor the approximately 1,000 demonstrators who marched to the Greek consulate in the northern port city.

Police said some of the Hamburg demonstrators wore facemasks and threw bottles and burning missiles at the police, two of whom needed hospital treatment.

Greece's conservative government is under fire over the unrest, with unions putting extra pressure on the government ahead of a parliamentary vote Sunday on the budget.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has shrugged off opposition calls to resign. Last week he announced financial measures to support the business and tourism sectors hard-hit by the unrest.

Hundreds of shops and banks in Athens and elsewhere have sustained damage in street violence.

With trading gradually resuming, rumors are rife in the Greek media that Karamanlis will reshuffle his government which relies on a fragile single-seat majority in the 300-deputy parliament.

Helene Colliopoulou/AFP/Expatica

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