A policeman was taken to hospital and another three reportedly lightly injured as riot police clashed with thousands of demonstrators in the usually quiet suburb of Nea Smyrni, south of the Athens centre, on Tuesday.
The demonstrators hurled petrol bombs, flares and stones against the police as they headed to the local police station to protest against police violence. In return, the police retaliated with tear gas, flash bangs and a water cannon to repel the attack.
Police reported at least 5,000 people took part in the rally, and they released pictures of individuals carrying bars of concrete and large bags with water bottles filled with petrol which they confiscated.
Protesters set several fires in the area, while images of broken car windshields were broadcast on state national television ERT.
A police officer was injured in the head during the clashes while driving by hooded individuals who attacked him. He was taken to hospital and is out of danger.
The protest was held following an incident of violence between riot police officers and a man at Nea Smirni Square on Sunday.
VIDEO SHOWING THE INCIDENT THAT SPARKED THE VIOLENCE:
Officials visit injured police officer
A minister and police chief headed to “401” Athens military hospital late Tuesday evening, to visit a riot police officer who suffered head injuries during a protest.
Greece’s Deputy Citizen Protection Minister Lefteris Economou and Hellenic Police Chief Lieutenant General Michalis Karamalakis were expected to be briefed by hospital authorities on the policeman’s injuries that occurred during the rally, though the officer is out of danger.
Ten people were arrested and at least three police officers were injured during the unrest between protesters and police in Nea Smirni, Athens, on Tuesday evening, said the Attica General Police Directorate late on Tuesday.
In its press statement issued about the incidents, police said that the clashes were provoked by some 400 hooded individuals who broke away from the main march of 3,000 people. A total of 5,000 people had gathered at Nea Smyrni Square just bofore the march began, the police added.
Parties condemn violence
“The sad images everyone saw tonight in Athens must be the last such ones,” Greece’s conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday evening, following incidents.
“Blind fury leads nowhere,” he said.
He accused some people of trying to sow hate and division “to cover up their own dead end, as they have done in the past,” he said and reiterated an electoral night commitment in July 2019 that he would guarantee the unity, security and prosperity of all Greeks. “I will allow no one to divide us. We will not let anyone turn us back,” he said.
During the march of at least 5,000 people by police estimates, a policeman was injured but out of danger by a group of people who smashed car windshields and lit fires on the streets of Nea Smirni.
SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance condemned the incidents that left a wake of broken windshields and damaged cars following the fires and rock hurling.
“We unequivocably condemn those who chose to spoil a peaceful protest of thousands of residents, students, workers and employers of Nea Smyrni. We unequivocably condemn the attack on a man of the Greek police. Violence cannot be faced with violence. Violence only exonerates violence,” said a statement.
The Movement for Change (KINAL) also condemned the injury of the policeman and called on all political powers to isolate fans of violence, anywhere they come from, and also castigated the government and the main opposition for “resorting to divisive politics harming public health, the economy, society and democratic normalcy.” Greece and its society “need a national plan to put an end to the pandemic and work consistently and unity for the future,” it added.
“The grand rally of unions, employee associations, mass agencies and thousands of residents of Nea Smirni against unprovoked police violence will not be spoiled by the incidents set up by the government, other suspect mechanisms with the help of provocators, against the great rally of the people of Athens,” the Communist Party of Greece said.
Calling the injury of the policeman “unacceptable”, it said that what happened at the rally “in no way absolves the government of New Democracy from the responsibilities it has over the police state it continues to impose.”