Students Attack Police Stations in Greek Riots

Students pelted least six police stations with rocks in hit-and-run attacks in Athens on Thursday, as sporadic violence continued following five days of rioting over the death of a teenager in a police shooting.

Authorities said at least one man was injured and hospitalized, while across the capital scores of high school students blocked busy roads and overturned police cars.

The attacks follow the worst rioting Greece has seen in decades, in which gangs of masked youths wielding metal bars smashed stores, looted businesses and set up flaming barricades across streets in cities throughout the country.

At least 70 people have been injured since Saturday when the rioting broke out within hours of the killing of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos. Hundreds of stores have been damaged or destroyed.

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The police and government have come under intense criticism for their handling of the crisis, despite authorities' insistence that they avoided heavy handed policing to prevent bloodshed.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, whose increasingly unpopular conservative government has a single-seat majority in the 300-member Parliament, has ignored opposition calls for early elections and promised shopkeepers affected by riots generous compensation, including $12,800 handouts to cover short-term needs.

Although no major demonstrations were planned Thursday, tension persisted in Athens and the northern city of Thessaloniki, students occupying their high schools and university faculties. They planned a demonstration in Athens on Friday.

Authorities have renewed appeals for calm, with influential church leaders joining in attempts to ease tension.

"This tragedy cannot be resolved by burning and destroying the property of people who themselves have problems," said Greece's Orthodox Church leader, Archbishop Ieronymos.

While being generally tolerant of occasional outbreaks of violence during frequent demonstrations, Greeks have been shocked by the ferocity displayed by teenager rioters and the extent of the destruction.

"Is this our youth?" exclaimed an elderly woman as she picked her way past the rubble of a burned out shop near the Athens Polytechnic, where some of the most severe rioting took place. "Who needs youth like this? Why don't they go and burn the prime minister's house? What fault was it of these people (who lost their store)?"

Two separate opinion polls published Wednesday, before the aid package was announced, showed 68 percent of Greeks disapproved of the government's handling of the crisis, and gave a nearly 5 percentage-point lead to the opposition Socialists.

The exact circumstances of the death are disputed.

Two police officers charged in the shooting said they had come under attack by rock-throwing youths, and that one of the officers fired warning shots. Witnesses who have spoken to the media disputed that account.

A prosecutor ordered the two officers remanded in custody late Wednesday, pending trial. No date has been set.