ATHENS - Greek police clashed with anti-austerity protesters hurling stones and petrol bombs on the day of a general strike that brought much of the near-bankrupt country to a standstill.

In the second major walkout in three weeks on Thursday, almost 40,000 protesters marched in Athens in a bid to show EU leaders meeting in Brussels that new wage and pension cuts will only worsen their plight after five years of recession.

Tensions mounted when a small group of protesters began throwing pieces of marble, bottles and petrol bombs at police barricading part of the square in front of parliament, prompting riot police to fire several rounds of teargas to disperse them.

A 65-year old protester died of a heart attack, hospital sources told Reuters. Another three people were injured. Police detained about 50 protesters suspected of attacking them.

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