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On streets of Athens, racist attacks increase

Athens: The attack came seemingly out of no-where. As the 28-year-old Bangladeshi man dug around trash bins one recent afternoon for scrap metal, two women and a man set upon him with a knife. He screamed as he fell. Rushed to the hospital, he was treated for a gash to the back of his thigh.

Police are investigating the assault as yet another in a rising wave of extreme-right rage against foreigners as Greece sinks further into economic misery. The details vary, but the cold brutality of each attack is the same — Asian migrants confronted by thugs, attacked with knives and broken bottles, wooden bats and iron rods.

Rights groups warn of an explosion in racist violence over the past year, with a notable surge since national elections in May and June that saw dramatic gains by the far-right Golden Dawn Party. The severity of the attacks has increased too, they say. What started as simple fist beatings has now escalated to assaults with metal bars, bats and knives. Another new element — ferocious dogs used to terrorize the victims.

“Every day we see someone who complained of (some form) of racist violence,”              said Nikitas Kanakis, president of the Greek section                 of Doctors of the World, which runs a drop-in clinic and pharmacy in central Athens that treats the uninsured.

As many as 87 cases of racist attacks between January and September were registered, but say the true number runs into the hundreds.