ATHENS, Greece – Gangs of youths smashed their way through central Athens, Thessaloniki and other Greek cities into the early hours today, torching stores, buildings and cars in a third day of mayhem after the fatal police shooting of a teenager.
Riots first erupted across the country Saturday after 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was fatally shot by a police officer in Athens’ often volatile Exarchia district.
In the country’s worst rioting in decades, dozens of shops, banks and luxury hotels had their windows smashed as youths fought running battles with riot police.
Hundreds of high school and university students joined self-styled anarchists in throwing everything from fruit and coins to rocks and Molotov cocktails at police and attacked police stations throughout the day. Police said some rioters were armed with crossbows, knives and swords.
Police said early today that 89 people had been arrested in Athens for attacking police officers, vandalism and looting and 79 more were being questioned about possible involvement in the rioting. The fire service said it responded to more than 200 blazes in central Athens on Monday.
Officials said violence eased early today, although some clashes continued in central Athens, dozens of masked youths were said to be holed up in a university building in the city center, but Greece bars police from entering university grounds.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who has already faced a growing number of sometimes violent demonstrations, held an emergency Cabinet meeting Monday night.
“All the dangerous and unacceptable events that occurred because of the emotions that followed the tragic incident cannot and will not be tolerated,” Karamanlis said in a live televised address Monday. “The state will protect society.”