Salonica damage revised up

Rioters who ran amuck in Thessaloniki during Saturday’s protests against the European Union summit in Halkidiki, 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of the northern city, damaged a total of 78 shops, banks and apartment block entrances, officials said yesterday. Twenty-nine people, including eight foreigners, were arrested on Saturday for alleged participation in the riots in which dozens of Molotov cocktails were thrown at buildings and cars on central Egnatia, Aghias Sophias and Alexandrou Svolou streets. On Sunday, another two foreigners were arrested and two minors released. The destruction during the heavily policed demonstration – over 15,000 officers were on duty in Thessaloniki and Halkidiki during the summit – was initially thought to be much less serious. But the final assessment, by police, fire brigade, regional and government officials, was delivered yesterday to Minister for Macedonia and Thrace Giorgos Paschalidis by Ilias Liakopoulos, secretary-general of the Central Macedonia regional authority. «A lot of the property destroyed was insured, and will be covered by insurance firms,» Liakopoulos said. «The State will take responsibility for [property] that was not insured.» Apart from the buildings, 15 cars, one scooter, two telephone booths and three television cameras were damaged. Opposition New Democracy claimed the government had proved «powerless to protect Thessaloniki residents’ property, despite having information» that there would probably be riots. Government spokesman Christos Protopappas expressed satisfaction that nobody was killed or badly hurt during the riots by «a few hundred mindless vandals.» «The police’s particularly careful, accurate and efficient attitude ensured that the destruction was limited to a couple of blocks,» he said.

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