Three people have died in a fire in central Athens after protesters marching against austerity measures threw petrol bombs into a local bank branch. It is the worst violence to hit the country since riots in 2008.
Initially the day of action against the government was mostly peaceful, with a large crowd estimated at 40,000 gathering in front of parliament, and only small groups throwing stones and batons at police, who responded with tear gas.
But when the big crowd broke up small groups then went on the rampage in several different locations, including the bank.
Running battles broke out along Athens’ wider thoroughfares, with extra police being drafted in as they were put on a state of alert.
The police now say the situation is slowly returning to calm, and the public and private sector unions have reportedly called off their General strike out of respect to the victims.
The Greek parliament, which was debating the austerity package as the violence raged outside, also held one minute’s silence and condemned the loss of life.