Greek police fire tear gas at masked protesters wielding gas bombs during anti-austerity rally in central Athens. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Striking Greeks took to the streets on Thursday (November 12) to protest austerity measures, setting Alexis Tsipras' government its biggest domestic challenge since he was re-elected in September promising to cushion the impact of economic hardship. Flights were grounded, hospitals ran on skeleton staff, ships were docked at port and public offices stayed shut across the country in the first nationwide walkout called by Greece's largest private and public sector unions in a year. As Greece's foreign lenders prepared to meet in central Athens to review compliance with its latest bailout, thousands marched in protest at the relentless round of tax hikes and pension cutbacks that the rescue packages have entailed. Tensions briefly boiled over in the city's main Syntagma Square, where a Reuters witness saw riot police fire tear gas at dozens of black-clad youths who broke off from the march to hurl molotov cocktails and stones and smash shop windows near parliament. Some bombs struck the frontage of the Greek central bank. Police sources said three people were detained before order was restored. Five years of austerity since the first bailout was signed in 2010 have sapped economic activity and left about a quarter of the population out of work. Tsipras came to power in January promising to end the austerity. He then accepted the unpopular terms of Greece's third bailout when faced with the prospect of an exit from the euro zone. Illustrating the political juggling act the prime minister is trying to pull off, his own Syriza party came out in support of Thursday's strike, saying industrial action strengthened the government's hand in talks with lenders. The bailout review talks with the EU and IMF inspectors resumed on Wednesday (November 11).