Clashes in Athens as Greek PM seeks EU debt help

The Greek parliament approved new spending cuts and taxes Friday aimed at defusing the country's debt crisis, while protesters opposed to the measures fought with police outside. Prime Minister George Papandreou headed abroad to seek European leaders' support for his efforts.

Riot police used tear gas and baton charges to disperse rioters who chased the ceremonial guards in 19th-century kilts and tasseled garters away from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the parliament, while a top trade union leader was roughed up by left-wing protesters.

It was the biggest outburst of violence since Greece's debt crisis escalated late last year.

Police say they arrested 5 people, and seven officers were injured.

Up to 7,000 demonstrators gathered outside as lawmakers debated the austerity package, which aims to save euro4.8 billion (US$6.5 billion) with measures including higher consumer taxes and cuts to public sector workers' pay of up to 8 percent.

Papandreou met in Luxembourg with Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the group of eurozone finance ministers. Later Friday, he will hold talks in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Demonstrators attacked the two military guards and their escorting officers, smashing windows and kicking the guard posts. Earlier, leftwing protesters attacked the head of Greece's largest trade union who was addressing the crowd.

GSEE head Yiannis Panagopoulos traded blows with his assailants before being whisked away bloodied and with torn clothes.