Greek police fire tear gas in May Day protest clash

ATHENS Fri May 1, 2009 1:36pm BST

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ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek police fired tear gas against May Day demonstrators who burnt at least one car in the streets of central Athens on Friday.

"It's a group of 300 people at the Athens Polytechnic," a police official said. The clashes with self-styled anarchists came after more than 6,000 people marched peacefully in the Greek capital in the traditional May Day rallies. There were no injuries or arrests.

More than 4,000 police officers were deployed in central Athens to prevent violence. Greece saw its worst riots in decades in December, fuelled by discontent with a slowing economy and high youth unemployment.

"We won't pay for their crisis," read banners at the central rally held earlier today by the country's main trade union GSEE, which represents about 2 million employees.

Unemployment is rising for the first time since 2004 in Greece as the economy grinds to a halt and may even contract in 2009 for the first time in 15 years, according to the IMF.

(Reporting by Harry Papachristou; editing by Janet Lawrence)

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