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Police shut down central Athens for Greek Independence Day parade

Thousands of police have been deployed in central Athens ahead of a military parade to mark Greece's Independence Day.

Police were preventing vehicles and pedestrians from reaching streets near a stage in front of parliament where dignitaries were sitting Tuesday to watch the parade pass by. Only invited guests, including police or security forces in civilian clothes were allowed through.

In recent years, authorities have allowed the public to watch only near the end of the route — after protesters heckled officials over the handling of harsh austerity measures.

Greece has been roiled by a financial crisis since 2009 that has seen its economy contract by about a quarter. In return for international rescue loans, the Greek government has imposed austerity measures and reforms to overhaul its economy.