POLICE IN ATHENS have fired tear gas in attempts to disperse protesters, as violence scenes broke out amid a national day of strike action in protest at government spending cuts.
More than 30,000 workers convened near the Greek parliament to voice their opposition to the socialist government’s ongoing financial programme, which has come as part of the country’s EU bailout, the BBC reports.
Police estimated that the crowd numbered about 18,000, but the trade unions that organised the protests said the capacity was closer to 60,000.
The demonstrations came on a day of nationwide general strikes, when public servants joined private workers in walking out of work.
Three police officers were injured in clashes – one after he was set alight by a petrol bomb, pictured – with protesters, though police chiefs said they were relieved the demonstrations hadn’t resulted in more injuries.
One man arrested by police had been carrying an archer’s bow and arrows, as well as an axe, a spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.
Transport in the country went into lockdown too, with around 100 international flights cancelled while public transport between the country’s main cities was virtually non-existent.
Prime Minister George Papandreou said he understood the feelings of protesters, but indicated that protesting itself wasn’t enough to stop the government’s policies.
“Sometimes I would like to be out there protesting myself because I am not happy about what is happening, but it isn’t enough to protest,” he said.