Riot police fired tear gas at youths hurling rocks near the Greek finance ministry in Athens on Tuesday, as anger bubbled over on the first day of a general strike, and parliament debated new cost-cutting measures. Hooded youths ripped up paving stones and set rubbish bins on fire in central Athens as police gave chase and fired tear gas and stun grenades. Peaceful protesters nearby braved thick clouds of tear gas to stage an outdoor street party, banging pots and pans in time to music on loudspeakers. Some of them made human chains to protect the peaceful crowd from the rioters and the riot police battles, pushing back the police lines out of Syntagma Square, outside of the Greek parliament. Staff at upscale hotels handed out surgical masks to tourists and helped them with rolling luggage past the rioting, over ground strewn with smashed-up marble and cement paving stones. Youths torched a satellite truck parked near parliament. The fire caused a freezer at a neighbouring kiosk to explode, and hooded youths ducked behind the burning truck to help themselves to ice-cream cones. Marbles were smashed by rioters to use as projectiles while popular McDonald's fast food restaurant was vandalised by protesters.
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