ATHENS, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Minor scuffles between dozens of hooded youth and police forces broke out in central Athens on Tuesday during a mass anti-austerity rally organized by trade unions and opposition parties during the visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Groups of anarchists who mingled with some 40,000 citizens, according to police sources, protesting peacefully in the streets of the Greek capital attacked anti-riot officers with rocks in front of the parliament.
Police responded with tear gas to disperse them. The clashes have been restricted to a corner of Syntagma square near the steel fence which has been erected in front of the parliament building. No injuries have been reported, as the rally continues.
According to police, 40 persons have been detained over the past few hours across the city center which has been sealed off as a precautionary measure to avoid extensive violence which has repeatedly marred anti-austerity rallies in Athens in the past two years.
Athens has been converted into a fortress for Merkel's first visit since the start of the Greek debt crisis in 2009 with up to 7,000 policemen positioned on the streets.
As the German leader holds talks with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at his office, demonstrators denounced the new austerity package in exchange of further EU/International Monetary Fund loans this autumn to avoid a Greek bankruptcy and a possible exit from the euro zone.
Merkel is not popular amongst some Greeks because of her firm stance in favor of austerity to tackle the crisis in Greece and Europe. Protesters on Tuesday burned Nazi-style flags and chanted slogans against the Chancellor, the Greek government, IMF and austerity.
The German leader is due to leave Athens on Tuesday evening, following a short press conference, talks with Greek President Karolos Papoulias and a meeting with representatives of the Greek-German Chamber of Commerce.
During her stay in Athens, according to local analysts, she is expected to express solidarity with a country struggling to overcome the crisis, suggest focus on the reform drive, and reaffirm Germany and EU's support to Greece.