Violent clashes erupt in Greece between protesters and riot police

A molotov cocktail explodes beside riot police officers near Syntagma square during a 24-hour labour strike in Athens. Credit: Yannis Behrakis / Reuters

Greek riot police fired tear gas at hooded protesters hurling petrol bombs and stones as tens of thousands took to the streets in Greece's biggest anti-austerity demonstration in months today.

The clashes occurred after more than 50,000 people marched to the country's main Parliament chanting: "We won't submit to the troika (of lenders)" and "EU, IMF Out!" on a day of strikes against a new round of cuts demanded by EU and IMF lenders.

As the rally ended, dozens of protesters threw stones, petrol bombs and bottles at riot police, who responded with several rounds of tear gas.

Police chased the protesters through Syntagma square in front of Parliament as helicopters clattered overhead. Smoke rose from a small blaze in a corner.

The strikes, called by the country's two biggest unions representing half the four-million-strong work force, is shaping up to be the first test for Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

Police officials estimated the demonstration was the largest since a May 2011 protest, and among the biggest since Greece first resorted to aid from international lenders in 2010.

Protesters throw petrol bombs at riot police in Athens. Credit: James Mates/@jamesmatesitv