More than 80,000 angry protesters had on Sunday gathered outside the parliament’s building in the capital as officials debated whether to approve more austerity cuts to unlock a new EUR-130-billion bailout package from the troika of the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.
Authorities had earlier in the day dispatched more than 6,000 police officers to the city to stop any escalation of the violence. The riots, however, spread across central Athens during the evening after the police began using teargas and stun grenades against the protesters, who responded by throwing petrol bombs.
At least 35 people have so far been injured in the clashes. Banks, shops, and residential structures were among the buildings set on fire.
Moreover, several stores were reported to have been looted, including the arms outlet, where the protesters allegedly seized a number of the weapons.
The parliament’s members are currently debating the new austerity cuts demanded by the troika, which includes a 22-percent reduction in the minimum wage, 150,000 civil service redundancies, and a 15-percent cut in supplementary pensions.
The country implemented harsh austerity measures in return for the first bailout — an EUR-110-billion package it received in 2010.
The country has been in recession since 2009, despite the austerity cuts and the bailout funds, which are meant to stimulate growth for its troubled economy.
Greeks have been turning up on the streets for anti-government demonstrations on numerous occasions since the austerity cuts were first implemented in early 2011. Many of the rallies turned violent, leaving scores of the protesters injured.