Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Three dead as Greece protests heighten

A SERIOUS escalation in Greek unrest took place today, when a molotov cocktail attack on a bank in Athens ended in the deaths of three bank staff.

The arson took place during massive police repression of the angry protests against the IMF-EU "shock doctrine" being imposed on Greek workers.

Reports The Associated Press: "Riots over harsh new austerity measures left three bank workers dead and engulfed the streets of Athens on Wednesday, as angry protesters tried to storm parliament, hurled Molotov cocktails at police and torched buildings. Police responded with barrages of tear gas.

"Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in a nationwide strike to protest new taxes and government spending cuts demanded by the International Monetary Fund and other European nations before heavily indebted Greece gets a euro110 billion ($141 billion) loan package to keep it from defaulting.

"On the streets of Athens, demonstrators chanted "Thieves, thieves!" as they attempted to break through a riot police cordon guarding Parliament and chased ceremonial guards away from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the building.

"Tear gas drifted across the city center as rioters hurled paving stones and fire bombs at police. Firefighters extinguished blazes at least two buildings — the bank and a branch of the Finance Ministry — while protesters set up burning barricades and torched cars and a fire truck. Police said 12 people were injured in the riots.

"The marches came amid a 24-hour nationwide general strike that grounded all flights to and from Greece, shut down ports, schools and government services, and left hospitals working with emergency medical staff.

"The Acropolis and all other ancient sites were closed and journalists also walked off the job, suspending television and radio news broadcasts. But media later broke the strike to report on the deaths and the protests.

"Violence also broke out in the northern city of Thessaloniki, where another 20,000 people marched through the city center and some youths smashed store windows."