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article imagePresident of Greece says his nation on the brink of an 'abyss'

By Joan Firstenberg     May 5, 2010 in Business
Athens - The angry protests in Greece are gaining momentum. Three people, two women and one man, were killed today when a gas bomb was thrown into a bank.
Greek President Karolos Papoulias warned his people today, that the protests over the planned austerity measures must stop because the nation is hanging
"...on the brink of the abyss. We are all responsible so that it does not take the step into the void."
The BBC reports that three bank employees were killed during today's riots. The bodies of two women - one pregnant - and a man were found inside the Marfin bank branch on Stadiou Avenue in central Athens. They were among 20 people working there when a gas bomb was thrown inside. Most of the bank's employees managed to get out, but the three who died weren't so lucky.
Prime Minister George Papandreou told MPs in parliament the killings were a "murderous act".
"Nobody has the right to violence and particularly violence that leads to murder. Violence breeds violence."
But a protester told the BBC that the deaths were the fault of the police, whose "brutality" had led to the escalation of the violence.
Greece's government is vowing to implement spending cuts, a condition of its bailout by the European Community. Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou told parliament during Wednesday's debate on the bill.
"We are prepared to pay the heavy political cost. We will not take a single step backwards."
Meanwhile, the Greek money troubles are unsettling to the world's money markets. The euro hit a new 13-month low against the dollar, while the American and European stock markets all closed lower on the news.
By the end of this week, the Greek parliament is due to vote on EU-mandated austerity measures. These include a freeze on wages, cuts in pensions and hikes in taxes. The plan will run for three years, and the goal will be to cut Greece's public deficit to less than 3% of GDP by 2014. It stands currently at 13.6%.
Even as the Greek parliament votes, the German parliament is considering a bail-out plan for Greece. Chancellor Angela Merkel says.
"Quite simply, Europe's future is at stake."
It requires Germany to pay the largest proportion of the loans to Greece.
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