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Greek Riots

DW staff (dc)December 8, 2008

Fragile calm returned to Greece on Monday after the country was rocked by riots on the weekend following a police shooting that left a teenage boy dead. Two officers involved in the shooting were arrested on Sunday.

Riot police battle with a blaze in Athens
Riot police were out in force to bring the situation under controlImage: AP

According to Greek television reports, almost all of the 150 hooded youths who had sought shelter inside the Polytechnic University, which is off-limits to police under Greek law, had left the building.

At least 40 people were injured in the riots, which raged since Saturday. The unrest left Athens and the northern port city of Thessaloniki resembling war zones as self-styled anarchists torched cars, banks, police precincts, car dealerships, government buildings, private homes and stores and erected barricades that were set ablaze.

The riots broke out across Greece after police shot and killed a boy, whose age was reported as either 15 or 16, in clashes with youths in Athens.

Protesters throw chair and fire bombs at riot police during clashes in the northern port city of Thessaloniki
Police and rioters battled through the night in ThessalonikiImage: AP

The exact circumstances surrounding the shooting of the teenager are still unclear. Police said the shooting occurred after groups of youths began attacking a police car with stones and firebombs.

A purported warning shot by a police officer inflicted a serious stomach wound to the teenager, who died on arrival at a hospital.

Witnesses claim that there was only a verbal exchange between the youths and police, and that the police officer fired into the group.

Despite charges of manslaughter filed against two of the police officers allegedly involved in the shooting, the violence continued unabated until the early hours of Monday.

Inquiry underway

Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos offered his resignation to the country's prime minister, but the offer was rejected.

"I express my sorrow for the incident of the death of the young boy," he said.

Pavlopoulos said Sunday anyone found responsible would face "exemplary punishment," and added that while people have the right to demonstrate, protests should not turn against "people who are not to blame for anything."