Discontent resurfaces in Athens

The first education protest march since last month’s unprecedented riots degenerated into violence yesterday after hundreds of self-styled anarchists clashed with riot police, leading to several injuries and arrests. Of some 30 protesters detained for alleged involvement in the violence, half had been released by late yesterday. Sources told Kathimerini that several people sustained minor injuries and one was hospitalized. The rally, organized to coincide with the anniversary of the 1991 murder of academic Nikos Temponeras by a right-wing unionist, was one of three held in the capital yesterday but it was the only one that turned violent. An anti-war protest outside the US and Israeli embassies and a rally by schoolchildren and teachers ended peacefully. The trouble began in the early afternoon near the entrance to Athens University where the rally had started. Hundreds of hooded youths started throwing stones at stores on Panepistimiou Street, prompting riot police to fire tear gas. The youths then turned on police, hurling rocks and flares. At one point a group of protesters tried to force their way into the rector’s office. According to rector Christos Kittas, police officers did not ask for university immunity to be lifted so that they could gain access to the faculty. Later riot police officers cornered a group of around 50 protesters on central Asclepiou Street, prompting the youths to seek refuge in a nearby apartment block. Police said that many of the youths in the area had been involved in the earlier scuffles outside Athens University. According to witnesses, residents from the block came outside and argued with officers. Journalists and lawyers trying to access the area were turned away by police, sources told Kathimerini. Later yesterday evening, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the capital’s central police headquarters on Alexandras Avenue, leading to some tense scuffles with officers. But the crowd had dispersed by late last night, according to police who did not report any additional problems.

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