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13 Feb, 2012 07:29

Athens burns, buildings on fire as chaos, riots flare up (VIDEO)

The worst riot damage in years has struck Athens as MPs pass harsh new austerity measures. Dozens of historic buildings were set ablaze after riots turned chaotic overnight in Greek capital with protesters looting shops and clashing with riot police.

Firefighters are dousing smoldering buildings and cleanup crews are sweeping rubble following a night of rioting in central Athens. The stench of tear gas hung in the air Monday morning, choking passers-by. Looters smashed dozens of shops as 45 buildings, including a cinema, bank, cafeteria, a mobile phone dealership and a glassware shop, burned in central Athens.Police say at least 150 shops were looted in the capital. Dozens of police officers were injured and at least 70 people were hospitalized, with overall 120 injured. Sixty-seven rioters were arrested for attacking police officers and over 75 more were detained.The clashes erupted after more than 100,000 protesters marched peacefully to the parliament to rally against the drastic cuts, which will axe one in five civil service jobs and slash the minimum wage by more than 20 per cent. Around 2,000 were involved in the violence.The violence spread throughout the country, with riots taking place in Thessaloniki, Volos, Agrinio, the islands of Corfu and Crete. In Thessaloniki, clashes took place in the city center after the rallies and protest marches. In Volos during the protest, demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails into bank buildings, in the basement of the local municipal office, as well as the premises of the tax inspectorate.