Blue on blue: Greek police face off in Athens (PHOTOS)
Regular policemen joined a strike by firemen, coast guards and court workers protesting the latest round of austerity cuts in the crisis-stricken country. The newest budget reductions amount to more than $14 billion over the coming two years.
Several dozen protesting policemen, many wearing uniforms, massed at the entrance to the riot police building to prevent busses leaving towards demonstrations planned across the country over the weekend. An altercation broke out as the sides met head on.
The strikers were eventually dispersed, though the many of the riot police appeared hesitant at manhandling their colleagues.
"They make us fight against our own brothers," said one riot policeman, who did not want to give his name.
Greece remains mired in one of the deepest crises ever experienced by a developed nation. Latest figures show that unemployment has risen from 17.2 to 24.4 percent over the past 12 month, despite severe belt-tightening in the public sector.
The country has undertaken the latest cuts to receive the next bailout from the EU, expected to amount to €31 billion. The protests have been timed to coincide with the arrival of an EU bailout inspection on Friday.
Greece’s GDP is expected to shrink by as much as 7 percent this year.
A Greek police officer shouts slogans outside a riot police facility in Athens September 6, 2012. (Reuters/John Kolesidis)
A Greek policeman and member of police unions, (C) faces riot police outside a riot police facility in Athens September 6, 2012. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis)