GREECE IN CHAOS: Riot police in violent clash with protesters on edge over austerity

Wednesday, March 8, 2017
By Paul Martin

GREEK farmers clashed with police in central Athens today when a protest against tax and pension reforms mandated by the country’s multi-billion-euro bailout turned violent.
Wed, Mar 8, 2017

About 1,300 farmers who had arrived in Athens from the island of Crete overnight headed to the agriculture ministry, which was sealed off by police buses.

Tempers flared after reports spread among the assembled crowd that officials had refused to see a delegation from the farmers, witnesses said.

A number of farmers, some holding shepherd’s staffs, charged the building and smashed windows of two parked police buses, with police responding by using tear gas, dispersing demonstrators into side streets.

Riot police remained at the scene, with some demonstrators occasionally appearing to hurl stones at them.

One demonstrator punched a hole in a police bus window, placing a large blue-and-white Greek flag in it. Shops in the area, a commercial district in downtown Athens, were shuttered.

Farmers have been engaged in a long-running feud with Greek authorities over social security laws introduced in mid-2016 which force them to pay on imputed earnings upfront, and higher pension contributions.

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