ATHENS—Three people were killed in an apparent firebomb attack on a bank in central Athens Wednesday as a massive protest against recent Greek austerity measures turned violent and angry youths rampaged through the city center torching several businesses, smashing shop windows and overturning garbage bins.
Greece was gripped by a nationwide strike, in what is seen as a key test of the government's ability to shepherd through tough austerity measures in exchange for a multibillion-euro bailout. Charles Forelle, Evan Newmark and Mike Reid discuss.
"Three people are dead at Marfin Bank in the center of Athens on Stadiou Street as a results of a fire," said Panagiotis Papapetropoulos, a police spokesperson. "The building has been evacuated, and the rest of the employees are safe. The investigation is just beginning so I don't have further details."
The clashes came as tens of thousands of protesters gathered to demonstrate against the government's recently announced austerity measures in one of the largest protests in recent years, and coincide with a nationwide general strike that has paralyzed the country.
The strike is seen as a key test of the government's ability to shepherd through tough austerity measures in exchange for an €110 billion ($143 billion) bailout loan from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Facing spiraling borrowing costs and a debt payment later this month that it can't meet, the government is scrambling to pass through legislation implementing the reforms, and Parliament is expected to vote as soon as Thursday on the measures.
Under the terms of the deal with the EU and IMF, the government has announced a €30 billion package of measures that will slash public-sector wages, cut pensions, freeze public- and private-sector pay and liberalize Greece's labor laws.
In addition, Greece has pledged to raise taxes including a two-percentage-point increase in Greece's top value-added tax rate to 23%, and increases in excise taxes for fuel, tobacco and alcohol.
On one of Athens's main shopping streets Wednesday, black smoke billowed from various fires, while glass shards and smoldering garbage littered the sidewalks. Protesters also spray-painted shops and building facades calling for resistance against the measures and for workers to rise up. To read full Wall Street Journal story — Go Here Now.
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