Three people were killed and several injured in a fire at a bank as protests in Greece turned violent on Wednesday.

Young demonstrators waving sticks and flags threw Molotov cocktails at banks and shops in Athens. One of the banks caught fire trapping over 20 people inside, three of whom died.

Police fired tear gas as demonstrators tried to break through police cordons in downtown Athens.

Protesters threw stones and bottles at police trying to guard the Parliament building in the Greek capital. Hundreds of Communists stormed the Acropolis and draped a giant banner reading “Peoples of Europe Rise Up” and raising slogans against the spending cuts.

There were demonstrations against the government's austerity plan in several towns and cities with a nation-wide general strike.

Stock markets continued to tumble across Europe following rumours that Spain had also solicited the help of the IMF.

Despite denials by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Roderiguez Zapatero, markets continued their downturn in Europe .

The euro also fell to its lowest level against the dollar in over than a year, down 1.5 cents to $1.3045.

“The worse bit is that it is not going to end there. There is a real threat to the Euro and five years down the line we may just see a return of national currencies and the demise of the euro.

So there is a lot more pain to come,” said commentator Francois Miquet-Marty, founder of Viavoice, a polling institute and strategic affairs consultancy.

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