Protest rally grows as Merkel arrives in central Athens

An anti-austerity protest rally called by Greece's two biggest unions, GSEE and ADEDY, on Tuesday swelled from a few hundred to a few thousands as German Chancellor Angela Merkel headed from Athens International Airport toward the city center on a crucial official visit.

Riot police were also dispatched to the Henri Dunant Hospital on Mesogeion Avenue, which is along Merkel's route, to prevent protesters from blocking the thoroughfare.

A few dozen arrests were made around Syntagma Square in an effort by authorities to control a possible escalation of the protest rally there.

Skai television also reported that Merkel's motorcade was met with jeers and shouts by bystanders and protesters positioned along its route.