Protest against Greek austerity vote turns violent

October 20, 2011 19:42

ATHENS - Tens of thousands of protesters rallied on Thursday in front of the Greek parliament, where clashes broke out between rival groups demonstrating ahead of a vote on a new round of austerity measures.

The rally, which drew 70,000 people, was interrupted by fighting between groups of black-clad youths and rivals from PAME, a communist-affiliated labor group, which opposed the disruption of the protest.

Police initially stood by but eventually moved in to confront rioters, firing tear gas at groups of protesters throwing rocks and masonry chipped off nearby buildings. At least 74 people were taken to hospital with injuries.

One man died of a heart attack on the fringes of the protest but officials said he had not been hurt in the incidents.

The clashes in front of parliament followed violence on Wednesday when groups of youths fought police at the start of a 48-hour general strike against the package of cuts and tax hikes demanded by the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

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