Nov 7 : Athens ablaze as Greek govt plans new austerity cuts

November 7, 2012

Athens ablaze as protesters try to storm parliament

Violence has erupted on the streets of Athens as a crowd of at least 80,000 gathered to protest against fresh austerity measures being voted on by the Greek parliament.

Police fired teargas, stun grenades and water cannons in an attempt to prevent a small group of protesters, some of them throwing petrol bombs that engulfed at least one officer (above), from storming the parliament building.

News agencies reported smoke and small fires in the streets near Syntagma Square, the scene of the biggest protests seen in the Greek capital in recent months.

The angry scenes came at the end of a two-day general strike called to oppose a €13.5bn (£10.7bn) package of cuts demanded by the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in return for a financial lifeline to prevent the government running out of money. Greece’s central bank has seen a mass resignation of 45 officials angry at wage caps imposed as part of the belt-tightening. The parliamentary debate was briefly halted when staff and opposition MPs walked out. But despite the protests inside and outside the chamber, the coalition government of Antonis Samaras was confident on Wednesday nightthat it would secure parliamentary approval for the cuts needed to trigger the €31bn bailout.