Police fire tear gas as protest heats up

Riot police fired tear gas at protesters in central Athens as a peaceful protest rally planned to coincide with the arrival in the Greek capital of German Chancellor Angela Merkel became marked by isolated incidents of violence.

One group of hooded youths were reportedly breaking off chunks of rock from the sidewalks of Panepistimiou Street and launching them at police officers, while another group of protesters is said to have tried to break through a metal barricade on the Vassilissis Sofias Avenue flank of Parliament.

Thousands of people gathered at Syntagma Square in front of Parliament on Tuesday to protest the crippling austerity measures that are part of the debt-wracked country’s bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund and the European Union, as well as to express their frustration with the largely negative portrayal of Greeks in German media over the past three years.

One of the organizers of the rally, labor union ADEDY, is reported to have put the number of protesters at around 80,000.

Police also took some 40 people into custody for questioning and made around half a dozen arrests.

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