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Greece passes austerity, but riots seize capital
The cuts and tax increases passed 155-138, with five voting “present” and backing neither side. During the vote, stun grenades echoed across a square outside Parliament. Acrid clouds of tear gas and orange and green smoke-bomb mist hung in the air.
Several banks and storefronts were smashed, while a Socialist dissenter who backed the government at the last minute, Alexandros Athanassiadis, was briefly assaulted by protesters after leaving Parliament on foot.
Violence continued throughout the afternoon, and smoke billowed from a post office beneath the finance ministry before a fire was put out. Rioters set up burning barricades along Syntagma Square, where demonstrators have staged a sit-in for the past month. Nearby streets were littered with chunks of smashed marble and ripped-up paving stones that had been thrown at police.
A general strike that began Tuesday paralyzed the country, grounding planes, leaving ferries docked and stranding tourists during the busy summer season.
By Wednesday night, police said 49 officers had been injured, one seriously when he was hit in the face by a chunk of marble. Forty-three protesters were detained, with 17 of them arrested. Emergency services said they had treated 99 protesters and passers-by for injuries.
Dozens of injured were treated at a first-aid center set up inside the square’s metro station. Most were treated for breathing problems, contusions and broken bones, volunteers at the first aid center said, appealing for medical supplies.
Across Europe, officials hailed the vote as an act of “national responsibility” and urged Greek lawmakers to follow up with another positive vote Thursday.
“That’s really good news,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on her way out of an economic forum in Berlin. Germany is Greece‘s biggest creditor.
Relief was the main response in markets, too. Soon after the vote, the euro rose against other world currencies, including to $1.44 against the American dollar. Stock markets around the world were posting big gains.
• Christopher Torchia, Menelaos Hadjicostis and Demetris Nellas in Athens and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.
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