Riot police in the Netherlands have again clashed with protesters defying a curfew, following a weekend of unrest.
More than 150 people were arrested, local media say. In Rotterdam, the police fired warning shots and tear gas, after an emergency order issued by the mayor failed to move demonstrators. The unrest started over the weekend as protesters kicked back against newly imposed coronavirus restrictions. Prime Minister Mark Rutte has condemned what he called “criminal violence”.
The country has had nearly one million confirmed Covid cases since the start of the outbreak, with more than 13,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University in the US, which is tracking the pandemic. There were more violent scenes in several cities across the country on Monday. Riot police clashed with protesters in Amsterdam as well as Rotterdam, Amersfoort, and Geleen. Fires were lit on the streets of The Hague, where police on bicycles attempted to move small clusters of men who threw rocks and fireworks, the BBC’s Anna Holligan reports from the city. A number of arrests have been made in Amsterdam after reports of more destruction. In Rotterdam, police used water cannon during clashes with rioters, national broadcaster NOS reported.
The city’s mayor has signed an emergency decree, giving police broader powers of arrest. Football fans of the Willem II club took to the streets of Tilburg to “protect their city” against rioters, local news site Brabants Dagblad reports. The violence on Sunday was described by Dutch police as the worst unrest in four decades. Police arrested around 250 people across the country. A Covid-19 testing center was also set alight on Saturday evening in the northern village of Urk, local authorities said.
Police arrested a 39-year-old man in Almere on Saturday for posting threatening messages about journalists online, national news agency ANP reported. Mayors in several cities have vowed to introduce emergency measures in an effort to prevent more disturbances. “It’s unacceptable. All normal people will regard this with horror,” the prime minister told reporters. “What motivated these people has nothing to do with protesting, it’s criminal violence and we will treat it as such.”
The Dutch government has introduced its toughest measures since the start of the pandemic – including a night-time curfew which runs from 21:00 (20:00 GMT) to 04:30. It is the first in the Netherlands since World War Two. Anyone caught violating it faces a €95 (£84) fine. The country’s bars and restaurants have been shut since October, while schools and non-essential shops closed last month. A ban on flights from the UK, South Africa, and South America has been put in place due to fears over new variants of the virus.
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