Clashes as Greeks protest at cuts

Friday, February 10, 2012
By Paul Martin

Friday 10 February 2012

Thousands have taken to the streets of Athens as unions launched a two-day general strike against planned austerity measures.

The protests came a day after Greece’s crucial international bailout was put in limbo by its partners in the eurozone.

Clashes broke out in Syntagma Square, outside Parliament, as dozens of hooded youths threw fire bombs and stones at police, who responded with tear gas. No arrests or injuries were reported.

Police said some 7,000 people took part in the demonstration. Another 10,000 Communist supporters held a separate, peaceful march, chanting slogans against cutbacks that include reducing the minimum wage by 22% and cutting one in five government jobs.

Bailout creditors say Greece has not yet met demands for all the required austerity measures and, frustrated by days of dithering, have given political leaders in Athens until the middle of next week to do so. Otherwise, the country will lose its rescue loan lifeline, go bankrupt next month and likely leave the euro.

“We are experiencing tragic moments,” Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos told Parliament.

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