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Athens vents anger at Angela Merkel's visit

Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched to protest the German chancellor's visit to Athens, where she met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to discuss further austerity measures.

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A vendor sells Greek flags during a protest in Athens, Tuesday Oct. 9. German Chancellor Angela Merkel got a hostile reception from many ordinary Greeks Tuesday when she flew into Athens on her first visit to the country since its debt crisis erupted three years ago.

Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

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Tens of thousands of Greeks took to the streets to protest the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel today, venting their anger at the woman who has been the focus of the anti-austerity and anti-German sentiment in Greece.

Athens hadn’t seen such security measures since President Clinton had visited Greece’s capital in 1999. Some 50,000 demonstrators marched through the city carrying signs – one, paraphrasing German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht, read: “Angela, don’t cry. There’s nothing in the cupboard to take” – and protesting peacefully, though there were some isolated instances of rioting.

The city center was blocked by 7,000 police officers who began making "preventive" arrests in the early morning, rounding up a group of high school students in Syntagma Square, where Parliament sits, before the demonstrations had started. Even snipers were deployed.

And despite the brevity of Ms. Merkel's visit – she was set to spend only five hours in Athens – she was not able to avoid the protesters' ire entirely. As her motorcade was heading from the airport to the prime minister’s office, angry protesters managed to circumvent the riot police guarding the streets and throw bottles at her car.

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