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Protesters run wild in Athens

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Protesters run wild in Athens

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Central Athens erupted in violence and vandalism today as young people broke away from protests at the government’s austerity measures to wreak havoc.

The protests launched a 48-hour strike called by the country’s two biggest public and private sector unions.

Police fought running battles with the youths as stones were thrown and tear gas was fired. Shop windows were smashed and at least four police officers were injured. Four protesters were injured, one of them stabbed as fights broke out between rival groups. At least 18 people were detained and three people were charged.

Earlier thousands of people had marched peacefully to register their despair at a programme of cuts they say will slash jobs, salaries, and close down state enterprises. Some civil servants said they had not been paid in two months, and their wages would drop by 25 percent.