Riot police used tear gas and pepper spray against several hundred demonstrators after the violence broke out near the country’s parliament. Protesters also set fire to trees in the National Gardens and used hammers to smash paving stones and marble panels to use as missiles against the riot police.
About 50,000 people joined the union-organized march in central Athens on Wednesday, held during a general strike against new austerity measures planned in the crisis-hit country. The action, the first large-scale walk-out since the country’s coalition government was formed in June, closed schools and disrupted flights and most services.
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.