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Latest update : 2009-04-17

Dozens of demonstrators used an anti-racism protest to pelt police with rubbish outside parliament and tried to set fire to the municipal Christmas tree, continuing two weeks of violent rioting in Greece after police shot a schoolboy dead.

AFP - Protesters hurled garbage at riot police who responded with tear gas Saturday, as the Greek capital saw more protests, two weeks after the police killing of a teenager that sparked nationwide unrest.

The police were targeted as they ringed a Christmas tree on the main Syntagma Square which has been a focus of demonstrations since the shooting of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos on December 6.

The tree was brought in last week after the original was torched at the height of unrest following the schoolboy's death.

The trouble came on the fringe of an anti-racist demonstration by about 200 people in the capital.

"Migrants are killed, schoolchildren are killed," said banners carried by the protesters who marched to the Greek parliament.

The march follows daily protests in Athens and other Greek cities over Grigoropoulos's death that have often become violent.

Two hours later, more protesters threw a petrol bomb at a building housing a banking services company although there was only minor damage and the fire was quickly brought under control.

In the northern city of Thessaloniki, youths occupied a hall being used for a film festival while others pelted the city mayor with pastries, police said.

Masked youths Friday attacked the French cultural institute in Athens after about 1,000 students and communist activists staged a march to condemn a second shooting on Wednesday in which the son of a teacher's union official was slightly wounded.

Protesters demanding justice over Grigoropoulos's death continue to occupy hundreds of schools and many universities across Greece.

The Athens Polytechnic, site of a 1973 student uprising that hastened the fall of military dictatorship in Greece, is among the occupied campuses.

Athens Polytechnic students were to gather on the street corner in the Exarchia district, where Grigoropoulos was hit by a police bullet two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, German police on Saturday arrested 10 people and suffered four injuries in fighting with demonstrators staging a rally in Hamburg in support of the Greek protests, officials said.

About 1,300 police were mobilised to monitor the approximately 1,000 demonstrators who marched to the Greek consulate in the northern port city.

Police said some of the Hamburg demonstrators wore face masks and threw bottles and burning missiles at the police, two of whom needed hospital treatment.

Greece's conservative government is under fire over the unrest, with unions putting extra pressure on the government ahead of a parliamentary vote Sunday on the budget.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has shrugged off opposition calls to resign. Last week he announced financial measures to support the business and tourism sectors hard-hit by the unrest.

Hundreds of shops and banks in Athens and elsewhere have sustained damage in street violence.

With trading gradually resuming, rumours are rife in the Greek media that Karamanlis will reshuffle his government which relies on a fragile single-seat majority in the 300-deputy parliament.

Date created : 2008-12-20