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Greek protests spread to European cities

Anger over the fatal shooting of a Greek teenager by a policeman has spread across Europe with disturbances in a string of cities.

 

From Madrid to Moscow, Greeks living abroad, left-wing activists and other sympathisers took part in demonstrations in solidarity with the six days of rioting which has hit Greece.

The protests marked a dangerous escalation in the crisis that has engulfed Greece since 15-year-old schoolboy Alexis Grigoropoulos was shot dead by a police officer on Saturday night in Athens.

In Copenhagen, police detained 63 people who threw bottles and paint bombs at riot police late on Wednesday.

In Madrid, nine people were arrested when around 200 people chanting "police killers" targeted a police station, shops and banks.

In Barcelona a Greek woman and another unidentified foreigner were arrested during a similar demonstration.

In France, arsonists torched two cars outside the Greek consulate in Bordeaux, scrawling slogans in support of Greece's worst riots since the country was ruled by a military junta in the early 1970s.

Graffiti sprayed opposite the consulate read "Support for the fires in Greece", "Insurrection Everywhere" and "The Coming Insurrection" – the latter the name of a book which the French government alleges has inspired a network of "ultra-left" anarchist groups.

In Turkey, about a dozen left-wing protesters daubed red paint over the front of the Greek consulate in Istanbul. Protesters threw petrol bombs at Greece's embassies in Moscow and Rome.

In Athens, at least a dozen police stations came under attack within an hour in a sixth day of clashes in Greece between riot police and protesters. Protesters used mobile phone text messages and the internet to co-ordinate their campaign.

"Greece is a country of 10 million people, it's not a big place," said a student protester, who had a scarf wrapped around his face and refused to give his name. "It's not hard to organise things with SMS and blogs."

Several hundred demonstrators clashed with security forces outside the country's biggest prison, in the west of Athens, as they awaited the arrival of the two police officers accused over the teenager's death.

Epaminondas Korkoneas, 37, the police officer accused of shooting the teenager, has been charged with voluntary homicide and "illegal use" of his service weapon. His partner has been charged with complicity.

Police said there was a second riot at the agriculture university in Athens, which has been occupied by students, and that gangs vandalised shops in the Nea Smyrni and Galatsi areas of the capital.

There were similar clashes in the northern city of Thessaloniki, where more than 80 shops and 14 banks were damaged.

Across Greece, at least 70 people have been injured and about 100 arrested since the rioting broke out on Saturday.

Despite the turmoil, embattled Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis flew to Brussels to attend a European Union summit. His conservative government has a parliamentary majority of just one seat.

Greece has a history of clashes between the police and left-wing, anarchist groups.

A student uprising in 1973 helped bring an end to the country's military dictatorship a year later. But the scale of this week's violence has left the country in deep shock.

Under the headline "Greece in self-destruct mode" the conservative daily newspaper Kathimerini said in an editorial: "This is a country with a state that is in a shambles, a police force in disarray, mediocre universities that serve as hotbeds of rage instead of knowledge and a shattered health care system. It is also on the brink of financial ruin."

 
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