Athens, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Tens of thousands of Greek citizens marched in the center of Athens on Thursday afternoon, encircling the parliament building, while inside the bill on the new austerity measures was approved.
Denouncing for one more time the further cutbacks on salaries and tax hikes that paved the way for the EU-IMF financial support, protesters raised their voices against violence that marred Wednesday's similar demonstration, ending in the tragic death of three bank employees.
They died of asphyxiation in the fire that broke out when a group of hooded anarchists threw petrol bombs against the bank's building, situated near the parliament.
Still in shock, members of families, friends and thousands of citizens stopped by the place of the tragedy to place flowers, light candles and hold three minutes of silence, as the new rally started, honoring the victims.
In the meantime, police reviewed traffic camera footage and all related evidence in order to find the perpetrators.
So far the demonstration which is still underway is peaceful, but police expressed fears for new attacks by anarchists that could endanger more lives and cause more damages. Athens police units have been reinforced with policemen from nearby towns.
During Wednesday's protest, a group of people tried to storm the parliament building, while anarchists torched other state buildings, such as the Finance Ministry and a Tax Office, apart from attacks against banks, hotels and shops.
According to the latest police estimates, 55 people were injured on Wednesday, among them 41 policemen, 70 protesters were apprehended and 25 were already brought before public prosecutors on early Thursday.
Twelve buildings suffered extensive damages, 28 stores were broken, 10 banks were attacked and seven cars were set on fire.
Greek labor unions of public and private sector employees ADEDY, GSEE, as well as unions close to the two left parties represented in parliament that called for Thursday's protest, made repeated pleas for calm.
They have also asked citizens to turn off the lights of homes and offices for ten minutes at 8:50 p.m. local time (1750 GMT) in a signal of protest against austerity measures and violence.
Chanting slogans such as "Bring back the money you stole" and raising banners with slogans such as "We did not steal, we do not pay," people vowed to continue strikes and demonstrations "until the end."
As a 24-hour strike of bank and local government employees was held on Thursday and pharmacies will remain closed on Friday, GSEE and ADEDY plan new actions for next week and possibly a new 48- hour general strike, as the parliament will be voting on the reform of the pension system.
The Greek parliament approved on Thursday afternoon the bill on a new package of austerity measures in exchange for financial support by EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with 172 votes in favor and 121 against. A total 296 members of parliament were present during the vote.
The bill was approved with the votes of most of ruling socialist PASOK party's members of parliament, plus the votes of the members of the parliamentary group of far-Right Popular Orthodox Rally party (LAOS) and that of former Foreign Minister Dora Bakogiannis.
Leader of main opposition New Democracy party Antonis Samaras expelled Bakogiannis from the ranks of the center-right party's parliamentary group, as he had asked all party MPs to vote against the bill.
PASOK holds a majority of 160 seats in the 300-member parliament. Opposition parties voted against the bill.
George Karatzaferis, President of LAOS, said that his party supported the bill because the alternative would be disaster for the country.