Violent clashes briefly broke out in Athens during the first general strike since Greece's left-led government came to power in January. Masked youths broke away from a protest march as it passed outside parliament and threw Molotov cocktails at police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades.

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A youth prepares to throw a petrol bomb towards police in AthensYannis Behrakis/Reuters
Greece protests
A riot policeman looks at an airborne petrol bomb thrown by a youth in AthensYannis Behrakis/Reuters
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A riot policeman runs through a fire caused by petrol bombYannis Behrakis/Reuters
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A protester throws a Molotov cocktail during a 24-hour nationwide general strikeMilos Bicanski/Getty Images
Greece protests
Demonstrators throw petrol bombs at police in AthensMilos Bicanski/Getty Images
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Greek police stand guard amid flames caused by Molotov cocktailsAngelos Tzortzinis/AFP

Nearly 25,000 people had been participating in three separate demonstrations in central Athens, according to police figures, protesting a new round of bailout-related tax increases and spending cuts. A march organised by a Communist-backed union gathered around 15,000 people, while 4,000 or so participated in a labour union demonstration and another 5,000 joined in a protest staged by anti-establishment and anarchist groups.

The clashes prompted demonstrators to scatter but calm soon returned after a few running scuffles through central avenues in the capital. The tension was a far cry from the more violent and extensive clashes that have broken out in the past during general strikes and other protests in Athens. Police said one policeman was slightly injured before the clashes when three men attacked him. He was treated in a hospital for light head injuries and released.

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A protestor holds a Molotov cocktail during brief clashes between police and protestersMilos Bicanski/Getty Images
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A riot policeman prepares to throw a teas gas canister towards youths in AthensAlkis Konstantinidis/Reuters
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A masked youth holding a Molotov cocktail runs during clashes with Greek policeLouisa Gouliamaki/AFP
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A youth runs after writing 'burn it'on the facade of the Bank of Greece headquarters in AthensLouisa Gouliamaki/AFP
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Graffiti scrawled outside a bank in Athens reads: Freedom or Photoshop, a play on the Greek motto, Freedom or DeathLouisa Gouliamaki/AFP
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Protesters shouts slogans during a 24-hour nationwide general strike in AthensMilos Bicanski/Getty Images
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Students march through smoke during a massive demonstration as part of a 24-hour general strike in AthensLouisa Gouliamaki/AFP
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Supporters of Communist-affiliated trade union PAME take part in an demonstration as part of a 24-hour general strike in AthensAngelos Tzortzinis/AFP
Greece protests
A man protests during a massive demonstration as part of a 24-hour general strike in AthensLouisa Gouliamaki/AFP
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Tear gas smoke surrounds a statue on Syntagma square during clashes between police and protestersAlkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

The 24-hour general strike has caused widespread disruption across Greece, with numerous public services shutting down. Public transport was severely disrupted. The Athens metro and suburban railway was shut down, while bus and trolley routes were reduced and ferries remained tied up in port, severing connections between islands and the mainland. More than a dozen domestic flights were also cancelled. The strike closed museums, state schools and pharmacies, while state hospitals were functioning with emergency staff. Journalists also walked off the job, pulling news bulletins off the air except to report on the strike.