The deaths of three people in riots that broke out after a demonstration against the government’s austerity plan in Athens have shocked Greece.
Unions immediately called off their general strike after news came through that a small crowd had broken away from the main march and firebombed several banks. Three workers were trapped inside one, and burned to death before the fire services could reach them.
The rumour flew around the capital that no-one had died and it was just a scare tactic by the government to persude people to go home. That was very quickly quashed when the ugly truth became clear to see for all.
“This is outrageous… there are three dead people in there.. and some people say that they weren’t there.. I mean, I can’t believe what I hear from my fellow Greeks…” said one disgusted woman.
Battles raged with police in several locations as the main demonstration broke up and radicals went on the rampage in an outburst of fury.
“Attacks against the banks, attacks against the parliament, there are no institutions which can be called safe today in Athens. The country has lived a day of quasi civil war… The Greeks cannot stand the idea of sacrificing money from their pockets, as they say, and the reform package of the Papandreou government has difficult days ahead,” said euronews reporter Sergio Cantone.
By mid-afternoon, the police were able to stand down from their emergency state of alert as the situation began to calm, but the damage was done.
Three innocent workers had died, the blameless victims of the blind fury of a faceless crowd.