Youth protests pile pressure on Athens .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ATHENS - Athens police braced for more protests Friday after nearly two weeks of clashes, as the government faced growing pressure over its handling of the crisis sparked by the police killing of a teenager.

The offices of a French cultural institute in the city was targeted by masked youths even before the day's scheduled protests involving trade unions as well as student groups.

As Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review went to press on Friday, the Greek students planned a protest in a city suburb where another teenager, the son of a union leader, was wounded in a mysterious shooting incident on Wednesday night, and were to stage a concert at Athens University.

The main trade unions, meanwhile, organized separate rallies outside parliament against what they called an "anti-workers" budget up for vote on Sunday. After Thursday's violence in Athens, which left city center residents choking in tear gas, the main opposition PASOKparty again called for early elections, arguing that the government had lost control of the situation.

About 100 leading figures including academics, magistrates and economists launched a petition calling on the government and the political world as a whole to get a grip on the situation to re-establish confidence. The press too expressed the concern in the country, with both the daily To Vima and the Kathimerini critical of the government's inability to end the crisis. Even the right-wing daily Eleftheros Typos wrote: "The majority of conservative deputies are calling for immediate changes, the time for a reshuffle has come."

Eight youths arrested
Athens police said they had arrested eight youths - none of them school or university students - after several hours of street battles with dozens of militants in the city center Thursday.

They had broken off from an orderly left-wing demonstration of about 5,000 to confront police officers. During the course of Thursday's clashes three cars, a Greek flag and tables and chairs from neighborhood cafes were burned. Police said that two of those they arrested were minors. A group of about 20 youths broke into the Institut Francais around midday Friday, breaking the windows and throwing a petrol bomb, which briefly started a fire, police and diplomatic sources said. Nobody was hurt in the attack, said a French diplomat.