http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304186404576386872733780978.html By ALKMAN GRANITSAS, COSTAS PARIS and BRUCE ORWALL ATHENSâGreek police fought running street battles with dozens of self-styled anarchist youths in the center of Athens Wednesday, as a mass protest over new government austerity measures descended into violence. In separate incidents near the city's main Syntagma square, the hooded anarchists hurled rocks, chairs, bottles and firebombs at police, who responded by firing dozens of rounds of tear gas and stun grenades. Tens of thousands took the streets to protest the Greek government's latest austerity measures. Charles Forelle reports from Syntagma square in Athens. AP Photo. The anarchists also lit small fires near the square, amid reports of several injuries including at least two demonstrators, a police officer and a local journalist who was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. "We have had clashes at Syntagma square and demonstrators have thrown Molotov cocktails at the police," said police spokesman Panagiotis Papapetropoulos. "There have also been some reports of injuries." The clashes marred an otherwise peaceful protest by tens of thousands of Greeks angry over the government's latest â¬28 billion ($40.36 billion) austerity package, which was being debated in parliament Wednesday, and comes as Greece's two major unions staged a nationwide general strike that crippled public services around the country. But following the outbreak of violence, most of the demonstratorsâwho had numbered in the tens of thousandsâdispersed, seeking refuge from the tear gas and smoke that filled the air. The protest and strike comes as Greece's parliament is due to begin debate on a five-year austerity program that the government has promised its international creditors even as Greece seeks a fresh bailout from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund. Combined with an ambitious â¬50 billion privatization plan, the new measures foresee a raft of new taxes and spending cuts that have stoked popular opposition and led to at least two defections from the ruling Socialist party, narrowing the government's majority in parliament. As crowds built throughout the morning in front of Greece's parliament building, it was clear that the prospect of a second bailoutâand a second round of government austerity measuresâhas triggered a new level of distrust in the government. Riot police block the entrance of the Greek Parliament in central Athens, prior to a rally against plans for new austerity measures. The banner reads "direct democracy now." Many protesters said they had gone along with previous budget cuts and wage reductions on the belief that those sacrifices would be enough to right Greece's tilting financial fortunes. "They have asked us to reduce our wages, to live another standard of life," said Angeliki Kachrimani, a 42-year-old worker for Greece's postal service. She accepted a 15% wage cut, but her husband, a history teacher, is unemployed. "They told us this would be for the greater good. We see now that either [the government] is incompetent or it is deliberately pulling us into this situation where you crush the working classes," she said. Fay Soula, a 32 year-old chemistry teacher, was protesting alongside her students. "Last year they told us there would be no more tax increases, no more reductions," she said. "They said it would have a good effect. That was a lie." The prospective privatization of government assetsâfrom power and water companies to telecommunicationsâalso fuelled discontent in the crowd. "They tell us we have to sell our property," said Alexander Moshleas, a small business owner from the suburbs of Athens. "It is not our property. It is our children's property." "We are middle class," he said of his family. "If we are middle class and having problems, then what about our fellow citizens who are poor?" Faced with growing public discontent and wavering internal support within the Socialist government, Prime Minister George Papandreou met with Greece's president at a hastily called meeting Wednesday. The meeting has stoked speculation that Mr. Papandreou may announce a radical cabinet reshuffle. Mr. Papandreou, who is to make a televised statement later in the day, is considering sacking his cabinet and replacing it with a cross-party government acceptable to Greece's opposition parties. However, the main opposition New Democracy party has already said it would not participate is a cross-party government and fueling speculation the government may be forced to call early elections.