Youths wreck banks, businesses in Athens

December 15th, 2008 - 1:03 am ICT by IANS  

Athens, Dec 14 (DPA) Hooded youths hurled firebombs at the environment ministry, banks and businesses in more attacks across Athens in the early hours of Sunday after days and nights of civil unrest triggered by the shooting of a 15-year-old boy by police.Angry youths hurled firebombs at several banks along a busy avenue in central Athens as well as a McDonalds restaurant and two stores of Spanish clothing chain Zara.

The latest unrest followed a candlelit vigil in front of parliament marking a week since 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was shot dead by police on Dec 6 in the Exarchia district of central Athens.

More school students were expected to mobilize in central Athens for further rallies Monday and throughout the week. Students occupied more than 400 school buildings across the country in protest.

The violence was triggered by the police shooting of a 15-year-old boy Dec 6, but students have also been protesting growing corruption and economic and education reforms.

The riots, which have spread to all corners of the country, have been the worst in decades, destroying hundreds of shops, banks, buildings and cars in more than eight cities across Greece, including Athens and the port cities of Thessaloniki and Patras.

Masses of hooded youths and self-styled anarchists have been smashing windows, looting shops and setting up flaming barricades in streets across the country. More than 500 people have been arrested.

Groups of protesters armed with firebombs could be seen battling with riot police in several parts of the capital Saturday, with police pushing rioters back from the tourist areas of Monastiraki, located in the shaodows of Acropolis.

“Within a matter of minutes they managed to bomb large sections of the street including this bank which we are trying to extinguish,” said a fireman in front of the burning National Bank of Greece located along Patission Avenue.

The two policemen charged with killing the teenager have been jailed pending trial. He claims he fired warning shots after being attacked by youths in Exarchia, a neighbourhood frequented by leftists and self-styled anarchists.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, whose ratings have plummeted over recent months owing to unpopular financial, education and labour reforms, has ignored calls to resign and hold early elections.

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