Athens braced Friday for further protest demonstrations as violence continued in the city with a fire bomb attack against a French language institute.
Protests in Athens have been both peaceful and violent
Eyewitnesses said around 20 masked protesters hurled Molotov cocktails at the institute in central Athens and then escaped down a narrow street.
The incident continued nearly two weeks of severe unrest which was triggered by the shooting death of a 15-year-old youth by police on Saturday, Dec. 6.
The attack on the language institute preceded scheduled demonstrations involving student groups and separate rallies by trade unions protesting against an "anti-workers" budget up for vote on Sunday.
The Greek government is facing increasing pressure over its handling of the unrest, with the main opposition Pasok socialist party calling once again for early elections. Pasok said the government under Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has lost control of the situation.
Student groups are protesting the police shooting of a 15-year-old boy
Greek media have also taken a critical stance against the government's handling of the unrest, with right-wing paper Eleftheros Typos writing: "The majority of conservative deputies are calling for immediate changes, the time for a reshuffle has come."
Demonstrations throughout Greece
Hundreds of demonstrators clashed Thursday, Dec. 18, with police in front of the Greek parliament in central Athens. Protesters hurled paint and riot police retaliating with tear gas.
The clashes came as 7,000 people marched in further anti-government protests in Athens and thousands more across Greece to protest the conservative government.
Rallies by unions, students and teachers also took place in the northern port city of Thessaloniki and on the southern island of Crete.
Hundreds of students continued to clash with police in side-streets throughout downtown Athens and around Athens University buildings, burning at least three cars, including a security van and trash containers.
Greece is experiencing widespread workers' strikes
The demonstrations accompanied strikes called by various unions.
All flights in and out of Athens International Airport were halted for several hours by a strike by air traffic controllers demanding a pay hike and greater job protection.
Airport employees were joined by civil service trade unions and students who held rallies in the city. Urban transport was also halted, while doctors and teachers walked off the job.