The rampaging youths, many of who were self-styled anarchists, threw firebombs, smashed storefronts and burned businesses as they battled with police, who fought back with tear gas.
The violent anger soon spread from central Athens, where it began to other cities.
The shooting death of a 16-year-old boy by a member of an elite police corps was the trigger, officials said.
A police statement said the incident started when six youths pelted a police patrol car with stones.
The teen was shot as he tried to throw a fuel-filled bomb at the officers, police said.
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