Protesting youths have rioted in central Athens for more than six hours – attacking police with rocks, flares and petrol bombs – after a student rally marking two years since the fatal police shooting of a teenage boy.
The boy’s death in 2008 sparked Greece’s worst riots in decades, led to an surge in attacks by militant groups and continued anti-government violence as the country grapples with a serious debt crisis.
Police detained 83 youths in the capital, and five people were hurt, including a bystander hit in forehead by a flying rock.
The clashes stretched from parliament to the site where 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was shot, about a mile away, where several hundred people gathered to leave flowers and candles.
Earlier, about 4,000 people marched to parliament where they confronted police who had closed much of the city to traffic.
The youths smashed store fronts, glass phone booths and other property. Riot police responded with tear gas and pepper spray as the masked youths used smashed-up paving stones and ripped-up traffic signs to throw at them, and set fire to rubbish bins to use as barricades, outside parliament and the city’s main Syntagma Square.
Several banks and other store fronts were smashed, but the damage was not extensive.
Despite the choking atmosphere from the tear gas, much of the city continued as normal. Some large stores remained open but shuttered their main entrance, allowing customers to continue Christmas shopping while protesters rampaged outside.
“Today marks two years since the tragic death of young Alexandros Grigoropoulos. Today we honour his memory,” government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said. “Those who honour him should not resort to violence.”
The 2008 rioting was the worst civil unrest in Greece in recent memory, with youths rampaging through cities almost nightly for two weeks.