ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Clashes have broken out in Athens during an anti-fascist demonstration by thousands of protesters marching to the headquarters of the extreme right-wing Golden Dawn party.
Demonstrators threw bottles and rocks at riot police, who were blocking the avenue leading to the party headquarters. Officers were responding with tear gas and stun grenades.
The protesters were marching in honor of an anti-fascist rapper who was stabbed to death last week. The man arrested for the killing identified himself as a Golden Dawn member, sparking a government crackdown on the party.
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Thousands marched in anti-fascist rallies across Greece on Wednesday, a week after the fatal stabbing of a singer sparked a government crackdown on the extremist right-wing Golden Dawn party.
The man held in the death of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas admitted to police that he had stabbed the 34-year-old and identified himself as linked to Golden Dawn, a party that has seen a massive rise in popularity amid Greece's severe financial crisis.
The party has vehemently denied any role in the killing. Although the suspect has not been officially identified in accordance with Greek law, he has been widely named by the Greek media, which has also published photos of him at Golden Dawn events.
In Athens, at least 7,000 protesters chanting "Pavlos is alive, crush the Nazis!" marched toward the headquarters of Golden Dawn after gathering in the city's central Syntagma Square. Another 3,000 demonstrators remained in the square, police said.
The march came hours after hundreds of students and other activists held a separate anti-fascist demonstration and concert in Syntagma.
In Thessaloniki, Greece's second-largest city, about 2,000 protesters were heading to local Golden Dawn offices. Greek media said other rallies were also planned in several other cities.
The government ordered an investigation into Golden Dawn's activities after Fyssas' death, with the case being handled by Greece's Supreme Court and anti-terrorist squad under organized crime laws.
The court heard testimony Wednesday for the second day from alleged victims of attacks, reporters who have interviewed men claiming to be former or current party members, and from immigrant community representatives.
Separately, Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis said authorities were also investigating reports that a psychiatrist at Athens' main state psychiatric hospital, who ran in elections on the Golden Dawn ticket, had been granting certificates for gun licenses to Golden Dawn members without following the correct procedures.
The crackdown against Golden Dawn has included raids on party offices and supporters suspected of being involved in attacks.
Golden Dawn, whose senior members have expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler although they deny being neo-Nazi, won nearly 7 percent in 2012 general elections and holds 18 seats in the country's 300-member Parliament.
Its members and supporters have frequently been suspected of being linked to violent attacks, mainly against immigrants. The party had appeared to grow bolder in recent weeks, with alleged actions taking on a more political, rather than racist hue. Earlier this month, party supporters were accused of attacking Communist party members putting up posters in a district west of Athens. Nine of those attacked were treated in the hospital for their injuries.
Despite its reputation for violence, particularly against immigrants, the party had enjoyed growing popularity as poverty has risen in Greece. But Fyssas' death -- the first killing attributed to political motives and allegedly involving the party -- appears to have dented its appeal.
Recent opinion polls show drops in popularity in recent days, although it is still the third most popular party in Greece.
A poll conducted by the Alco company for the news website Newsit published Wednesday showed support for Golden Dawn sliding to 6.8 percent after last Wednesday's killing, compared to 10.8 percent in a similar poll in June.
The poll was conducted by telephone interviews of 1,000 people nationwide. It did not provide a margin of error.
Costas Kantouris in Thessaloniki contributed to this report.
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