Farm tools vs. tear gas — Greek protesters clash with police
Demonstrators angry at increases in tax and social security contributions
Greek farmers armed with shepherd's crooks and stones clashed with riot police outside the agriculture ministry in central Athens Wednesday, during a protest against bailout-related income cuts.
Police fired tear gas to prevent dozens of protesters from forcing their way into the ministry building, and running clashes ensued. No injuries were reported, and two suspected rioters were detained.
More than 1,000 farmers, most of whom had traveled overnight from the island of Crete, took part in the demonstration. They later planned to march to the head offices of Greece's governing left-wing Syriza party.
Protesters are angry at increases in their tax and social security contributions, part of the income and spending cuts and tax hikes Greece's government has implemented to meet bailout creditor-demanded budget targets.
Greek officials are in a ninth day of negotiations in Athens with representatives of the country's European creditors and the International Monetary Fund on new required cutbacks, including further tax and pension reforms.
Government officials say they hope to strike a deal by March 20 after repeated delays in a process initially scheduled for completion last year. Greece needs an agreement before the summer, when it faces a spike in loan repayments.