NEWS

Officials take stock of riot damage; politicians ask for calm

Municipal workers on Monday started sweeping up piles of rubble and broken glass caused by the widespread rioting and looting that broke out during an anti-austerity demonstration that was hijacked by self-styled anarchists.

The smell of tear gas hung in the air as city officials sought to assess the damage wreaked on dozens of shops and buildings by arsonists and vandals.

The police said 74 people had been arrested, with another 92 briefly detained in spot inspections, and that 104 officers had been injured in the riots. The ambulance service said dozens of people had been injured.

Around 45 buildings, nine of which are listed, including two cinemas, banks and cafes, were seriously damaged in arson attacks. About 150 stores were vandalized and looted.

The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the damage to was worth ?tens of millions of euros.? ?Most will probably never open again,? it said of the affected businesses.

Angry Athenians were to hold a candlelight vigil outside the gutted premises of the historic Attikon cinema last night to protest the tactics of a few hundred rioters who ruined a large and peaceful demonstration.

Claiming that the riots were part ?an organized plan,? Citizens? Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis called for ?self-restraint and calm at a difficult time for the country.? ?The sacrifices being made by the people and the measures being taken by the government create the conditions for intense social unrest,? he said. ?For this reason we must all be calm, serious and responsible. The situation also requires citizens to participate. No one can achieve anything on their own.?

The leader of conservative New Democracy Antonis Samaras was harsher in his assessment. ?They wrecked the city. They wrecked businesses. They intentionally chose traditional buildings and burned them,? he said. ?These scumbags should be aware that when the time comes, I will pull off their hoods.?