Violence Erupts as Greeks Protest against AusterityWorld | March 11, 2010, Thursday // 14:47| views
Protesters clash with riot police during a demonstration in central Athens, Greece 11 March 2010. A nationwide strike has paralysed Greece as more than three million public and private sector workers embarked on a 24-hour walkout. Photo by EPA/BGNES
Greek protesters opposed to the spending cuts and taxes have clashed with the police in Athens while the Greek parliament approved on Friday new measures in a bid to tackle the debt crisis.
Riot police used tear gas and baton charges to disperse rioters who chased the ceremonial guards in 19th-century kilts and tasseled garters away from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the parliament, while a top trade union leader was roughed up by left-wing protesters.
It was the biggest outburst of violence since Greece's debt crisis escalated late last year. Police say they arrested 5 people, and seven officers were injured.
Public services and transport in Greece have ground to a halt as workers stage a third general strike in protest at the government's austerity measures.
Flights are grounded, and schools and hospitals closed in the 24-hour walk-out called by the two largest unions.
The government says it sympathises with public anger over tax rises and wage cuts but is refusing to back down.
It has promised to slash its budget deficit from nearly 13% of gross domestic product, more than four times the EU limit, to less than three percent by 2012.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has promised that eurozone nations, the 16 countries using the euro as their currency, will not let the Greek economy fail.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who runs Europe’s largest economy, however has so far refused to give the green light to any aid package.
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