Riots raged in several Greek cities on Sunday after police shot dead a 15-year-old boy in the capital Athens, in the Mediterranean nation's worst civil disturbances in years. (UPDATED)
The boy died Saturday in the central Exarchia district after a policeman fired into a crowd of youths threw petrol bombs at police, burned dozens of cars and smashed shop windows, police said. The boy was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was confirmed dead.
The rioting began in Athens soon after the shooting. It quickly spread to Greece's second largest city of Thessaloniki and other towns in northern Greece.
The demonstrators protested against the "arbitrary" police action, shouting slogans against the right-wing government of Prime Minister Costas Caramanlis.
Cities on the holiday islands of Crete and Corfu also saw protests at the shooting, which prompted Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos to offer his resignation. Karamanlis, whose fragile government has been rocked by a series of scandals, rejected it, a ministry spokeswoman said.
"On behalf of the government and the prime minister, I express sorrow for the incident and especially the death of the young boy," Reuters quoted Pavlopoulos as saying in a statement.
"An investigation to clarify the incident has already begun ... There will be an exemplary punishment and, above all, measures will be taken so that this will never be repeated."
TWO POLICE OFFICERS ARRESTED
Two police officers were arrested Sunday over the killing of a 15-year-old Athens boy, including the officer suspected having fired the fatal shot, police said.
Epaminondas Korkoneas, 37, who allegedly shot and killed Andreas Grigoropoulos late Saturday was taken into custody, as well as Vassilis Saraliotis, 31, who was in the police car when the incident happened, the source said.
Korkoneas was being held at police headquarters in Athens.
Grigoropoulos was among a group of about 30 teenagers who were throwing stones and other missiles at a car in which the two officers were travelling late Saturday. Korkoneas allegedly got out of the vehicle and fired at him.
The teenager’s death sparked violent protests Sunday in Athens and in the major cities across Greece, with shops, banks and cars being burned in several towns.
It was the first time since 1985 that police have killed a minor in Greece, a police spokesman said. A hospital official, who asked not to be identified, said the boy was 15 years old.
"Murderers in uniforms!" chanted hundreds of protesters who marched on the Athens police headquarters, where the two policemen were being held.
Plumes of black smoke rose into the night sky as overturned cars burned in Exarchia, a regular flash-point of trouble between police and gangs of self-proclaimed anarchists.
Police fired tear gas to disperse the youths, many of whom wore black hoods. Restaurants closed their shutters early and at least two police officers were injured in the rioting.
A group calling itself the United Anti-Capitalist Left called a march for Monday in Athens against the killing. Karamanlis's centre-right government, which holds a slender one-seat majority in parliament, has faced a series of protests from unions and students.
In recent months, the Socialist opposition has taken the lead in opinion polls amid anger at public scandals and the government's handling of the economy. Many analysts say Karamanlis could be forced to call early elections next year.