NEWS

Anarchists clash with police as neo-Nazis meet

Hundreds of anarchists and left-wing demonstrators clashed with police in central Athens on Saturday night, throwing Molotov cocktail bombs and rocks, as they gathered in response to a meeting of neo-Nazis just a few streets away. About 1,000 riot police patrolled the city center on Saturday and blocked traffic in the area as the night of violence started when anarchist groups met outside the Athens Polytechnic University. The self-styled anarchists and the left-wing Greek Social Forum were gathering in response to a meeting of the ultra-right Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn) in the adjoining Exarchia area. The anarchists, wearing helmets and masks, moved to confront the right-wing group in a tense standoff but then started to attack police when the law enforcers prevented the confrontation with the use of police riot vans. Anarchists then threw petrol bombs and stones as riot police broke up the gathering by firing tear gas. A television crew showing live footage of the riots said that it was difficult to breathe in the area due to the heavy use of chemicals by law enforcers. The rampaging youths continued by setting fire to trash cans, attacking parked cars and smashing a shop window. Police said they detained some youths that were involved in the riots but did not give specific numbers. No arrests were made. The clashes took place as a result of Chryssi Avgi members meeting to protest against a government ban on their Eurofest festival, a planned gathering of European Nazi and Fascist parties in Greece this weekend. The Eurofest festival, focused on opposition to Turkey’s proposed accession to the European Union, was to bring together groups from Germany, Italy, Romania and Spain in southern Greece.