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ATHENS, Dec 18 — Police and squatters clashed in central Athens today as officers cleared buildings as part of an ongoing law-and-order campaign, and one neighbour accused officers of brutality, state media reported.
All three operations were in the Athens district of Koukaki, an area popular with tourists by virtue of its proximity to the Acropolis and other archaeological sites.
In two cases, residents inside threw objects and furniture at the police, who responded with flash grenades and tear gas, the state news agency ANA said.
Ten people were detained for questioning, including members of a family living next door to one building targetted who accuse the police of wanton brutality.
“The police tried to go through our house without a court order...so my husband declined...then we heard (them) on our roof,” the detained man’s wife told ANT1 TV.
“When we went to check...the police handcuffed and beat (my husband and children)...they told me ‘go back inside or we will throw you down the stairs’...I saw one riot policeman stepping on my son’s head with his knee,” the woman told ANT1 TV.
Elected in July, conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has sparked criticism by ordering police to clear dozens of illegal squats in Athens.
The authorities say the buildings are mainly used as bases by anarchists to launch assaults on police, or serve as cover for drug peddling.
But rights groups say that many were used to house refugee families with no other accommodation.
In November, the minister for police gave anarchists a two-week ultimatum to abandon squats they still occupied.
The move sparked tension with Greek far-left groups and street protests, while the main opposition Syriza party has accused the government of “authoritarian” behaviour.
Earlier this week, authorities said they had dismantled a makeshift bomb placed near an Athens police station. — AFP
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