NEWS

Fresh violence erupts outside Keratea

Tension peaked near Keratea, southeast of Athens, on Tuesday as hundreds of residents clashed with riot police deployed to oversee the removal of a large pile of rubble from a major road linking the nearby port of Lavrio to the capital.

The residents, who have been violently protesting the planned construction of a landfill in their area for the past three months, had piled the rubble on the road on Monday. According to sources, the move had been a reaction to news that authorities were planning to send in bulldozers to start work on building the landfill. There is also speculation that comments by Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis in an interview with Kathimerini over the weekend – expressing the government?s resolve to push ahead with the landfill project – might have triggered the residents? vehement reaction.

Tuesday?s clashes began early on Tuesday when protesters set fire to a bulldozer sent to clear the road of rubble. At around 3 p.m., the town?s church bells rang out and residents used megaphones to call on locals to join the protest.

Hundreds of demonstrators of all ages fought police around Lavriou Avenue and in fields around the landfill site and on the outskirts of the town and hurled firebombs and rocks at riot officers. The force sent six riot police buses to the site to fortify an already strong police presence. They said that four officers were injured in the clashes though it remained unclear how many protesters had been hurt.

Constantinos Levantinis, the mayor of Lavreotiki – a municipality comprising Keratea and two other towns – expressed concern about the fresh outbreak of violence. ?I fear the worst,? he said. ?We are all in danger and we need an immediate solution to this problem.?