Athens and other cities across Greece were rocked yesterday by anti-war demonstrations, with businesses and services closing, transportation being suspended and an estimated 150,000 people taking to the streets of the capital. A slightly smaller protest was held on Thursday and another is planned for today. Next Saturday, youth groups of political parties are to stage another rally in Athens, with members coming from all over Greece. «The government has given its blessing to the demonstrations. «The government is aware of the anti-war sentiments of our people and it understands fully the spirit of today’s protests,» Telemachos Hytiris, a government spokesman said. But he noted the incidents of violence that had broken out near the US Embassy. «We believe also that everyone will show maturity and avoid extreme actions, which blacken the spirit of the demonstrations, the spirit of which is against war and in support of peace,» Hytiris said. Police fired tear gas at masked youths who had joined the protest in Athens and who threw gasoline bombs, sticks and stones at police near the US Embassy. One person was slightly hurt and 40 youths were detained, NET television reported. More than 60,000 people took part in a march to the US Consulate in Thessaloniki. Major demonstrations were also held, from Alexandroupolis in the northeast to Patras in the southwest, from Crete to Corfu to Mytilene. Demonstrators in Athens shouted, «War on War,» «Down with Bush and his gang,» and «Americans, killers of people.» Unions staged a four-hour work stoppage from noon to allow their members to attend the demonstrations. Schools and universities also closed, allowing students to make up the bulk of the demonstrations. Most of the country was brought to a standstill and traffic was jammed by the demonstrators in the streets. The work stoppage also affected airline traffic and coastal shipping.