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In Athens today, anti-austerity demonstrations began peacefully. Later, protesters threw rocks and petrol bombs. Police responded with tear gas. (Reuters /Landov)

Tear Gas, Rocks Fly At Anti-Austerity Protest In Athens

Sep 26, 2012

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Riot police in Athens have fired tear gas at protesters who in turn have been lobbing stones and petrol bombs in one of the largest anti-austerity demonstrations to hit the Greek capital in months.

Joanna Kakissis tells our Newscast Desk there are tens of thousands of people in the streets. They've been pounding on drums and chanting "Give us Bread, Education and Freedom! The dictatorship has not ended!" Some, says Joanna, are wearing "chains on their ankles to protest severe austerity measures imposed by the European Union and International Monetary Fund, who have loaned Greece billions."

Reuters estimates there are at least "50,000 striking workers."

As the BBC says, "the trade union-led action is the first since Greece's conservative-led coalition came to power in June. The protest is against planned spending cuts of 11.5bn euros ($15bn; 9bn). The savings are a pre-condition to Greece receiving its next tranche of bailout funds, without which the country could face bankruptcy in weeks."

Meanwhile, "violent protests in Madrid and growing talk of secession in wealthy Catalonia are piling pressure on Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as he moves closer to asking Europe for rescue money," Reuters reports.

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