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Athens burns, buildings on fire as chaos, riots flare up (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Published time: February 13, 2012 07:29
Edited time: February 14, 2012 02:35

A fire engulfs a store during clashes between protesters and riot police near the Greek parliament in Athens on February 12, 2012 (AFP Photo / Louisa Gouliamaki)

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The worst riot damage in years has struck Athens as MPs pass harsh new austerity measures. Dozens of historic buildings were set ablaze after riots turned chaotic overnight in Greek capital with protesters looting shops and clashing with riot police.

Firefighters are dousing smoldering buildings and cleanup crews are sweeping rubble following a night of rioting in central Athens. The stench of tear gas hung in the air Monday morning, choking passers-by. Looters smashed dozens of shops as 45 buildings, including a cinema, bank, cafeteria, a mobile phone dealership and a glassware shop, burned in central Athens.

Police say at least 150 shops were looted in the capital. Dozens of police officers were injured and at least 70 people were hospitalized, with overall 120 injured. Sixty-seven rioters were arrested for attacking police officers and over 75 more were detained.

The clashes erupted after more than 100,000 protesters marched peacefully to the parliament to rally against the drastic cuts, which will axe one in five civil service jobs and slash the minimum wage by more than 20 per cent. Around 2,000 were involved in the violence.

The violence spread throughout the country, with riots taking place in Thessaloniki, Volos, Agrinio, the islands of Corfu and Crete. In Thessaloniki, clashes took place in the city center after the rallies and protest marches. In Volos during the protest, demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails into bank buildings, in the basement of the local municipal office, as well as the premises of the tax inspectorate.

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­Watch RT's Jacob Greaves reporting from Athens


Riot police walk past a building burning during violent protests in central Athens February 12, 2012 (Reuters / Panayiotis Tzamaros)
Riot police walk past a building burning during violent protests in central Athens February 12, 2012 (Reuters / Panayiotis Tzamaros)

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Explosive devise explodes by police during rally in Athens (Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)
Explosive devise explodes by police during rally in Athens (Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)
Riot police run past a building burning during violent protests in central Athens (Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)
Riot police run past a building burning during violent protests in central Athens (Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)

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A protester hurls rocks at police in Athens during riots (Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)
A protester hurls rocks at police in Athens during riots (Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)

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A cinema is burning out during anti-austerity demonstration in central Athens  (Reuters / Panayiotis Tzamaros)
A cinema is burning out during anti-austerity demonstration in central Athens (Reuters / Panayiotis Tzamaros)

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A fireman tries to extinguish a burning cinema in Athens (Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)
A fireman tries to extinguish a burning cinema in Athens (Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)

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A cyclist rides past a burning building during violent protests in central Athens (Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)
A cyclist rides past a burning building during violent protests in central Athens (Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)

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Firefighters are seen by a building burning during violent protests in central Athens (Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)
Firefighters are seen by a building burning during violent protests in central Athens (Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)