Greek police, protesters clash in Athens suburb

International

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek police clashed with more than 500 protesters in an Athens suburb on Sunday evening, using tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd.

The crowd was protesting police violence, but views of what happened earlier Sunday diverge widely.

In an announcement, police say that a motorcycle patrol went to suburb Nea Smyrni’s main square just before 3 p.m. Sunday to investigate “multiple reports” of violations of lockdown measures and that they were set upon by a group of 30 people who injured two police officers. Police reinforcement detained 11 from among the group, police say.

But videos uploaded on several websites show a different picture: peaceful citizens arguing with police and suddenly being thrown to the ground and attacked with batons. It was to this incident that the protest rally was held about four hours later.

Police say that an administrative inquiry will be held in response to the video uploads.

Opposition parties have entered the fray, denouncing the “police repression.” “It wasn’t an accident. The government and (Prime Minister Kyriakos) Mitsotakis wanted this,” said Pavlos Christidis, the spokesman for socialist party Movement for Change.

With the number of new cases of the coronavirus still well above 1,000 daily, the Athens area as well as others across Greece are under a strict lockdown and police patrols conduct checks to see if people are keeping social distancing and refrain from traveling unnecessarily. Police say that they, on Saturday alone, they conducted 71,177 checks across the country, finding 2,025 violations; 1,627 concerned unauthorized movement, 304 non-wearing of masks and 91 illegal operation of businesses.

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