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Eyewitness: Athens riot

Petrol bomb explodes near police
Police in full riot gear were pelted with petrol bombs by protesters

Athens resident and journalist Paul Johnston described the scene as hundreds of rioters clashed with police in the Greek capital on Saturday 6 December.

As the rioting took hold in Athens, I found myself in the middle of a group of protesters, dodging rocks and bottles as police charged back and forth firing tear gas.

Protesters screamed slogans, attacking police cars with rocks and firebombs.

One young man in front of me was smashing the windows of high-class shops with a sledgehammer while police, about 100 yards away, looked on.

Walking through the streets there was broken glass everywhere and burned out shops and cars.

Tear gas

A passer-by, Maria Stamatoulis, told me that most of the people went on to the streets to protest about the government's failure to curb corruption, and in "revenge for killing the boy".

Then the police responded to the man breaking windows ahead of me.

Officers fired tear gas at us and at others in the crowd.

The canisters hit the ground and started smoking. Although I was at the back of the crowd, my eyes welled up but the wind was not blowing the gas in our direction.

The police then seemed to be trying to evacuate some of the restaurants in the area, and closed several streets to all traffic.

The news of the youth's death enraged hundreds and was the spark that ignited the flame in Athens.

But as a long-time resident of Athens, I can say that Greece is not unaccustomed to this kind of event.


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SEE ALSO
In pictures: Athens riots
07 Dec 08 |  In Pictures
Country profile: Greece
08 Jul 08 |  Country profiles


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