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Greek farmers end blockade of Athens

ATHENS / AP

Angry Greek farmers clashed with riot police in Athens then paraded their tractors and pick-ups outside parliament on Friday, in their first big protest in the capital against pension reform plans after weeks of road blockades. Officers guarded the entrance to the agricultural ministry and fired tear gas to disperse protesters who hurled tomatoes, eggplants and stones at the building, smashing windows and using shepherd’s crooks to repel police during scuffles.
“They won’t make us bend!,” the protesters shouted. After the afternoon violence died down, farmers drove their vehicles through crowds outside parliament, blocking the road and shouting slogans against the pensions overhaul which will bring in tax hikes and a tripling of their social security contributions.
Cheered on by supporters waving Greek flags, they honked horns as police in riot gear stood guard. A few demonstrators burnt olive branches while others unfurled a large banner reading: “Take back this monstrous reform plan.”
Some farmers pitched tents on Syntagma Square, the scene of violent clashes during anti-austerity protests in recent years.

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