Dutch police clash with anti-lockdown rioters

Rioters set fires in the center of the southern Dutch city of Eindhoven and pelted police with rocks on Sunday at a banned demonstration against coronavirus lockdown measures, while officers responded with tear gas and water cannons, arresting at least 55 people, news wires reported.

Police in the capital of Amsterdam also used a water cannon to disperse an outlawed anti-lockdown demonstration on a major square ringed by museums.

It was the worst violence to hit the Netherlands since the pandemic began and the second straight on Sunday that police clashed with protesters in Amsterdam. The country has been in a tough lockdown since mid-December that is due to continue at least until 9 February. The government beefed up the lockdown with a 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. curfew that went into force on Saturday.

Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus condemned the violence. “This has nothing to do with demonstrating against corona measures,” Grapperhaus said in a statement. “This is simply criminal behavior; people who deliberately target police, riot police, journalists and other aid workers.”

In Eindhoven, 125 kilometers south of Amsterdam, a central square near the main railway station was littered with rocks, bicycles and shattered glass. The crowd of hundreds of demonstrators also was believed to include supporters of the anti-immigrant group PEGIDA, which had sought to demonstrate in the city.

Eindhoven police said they made at least 55 arrests and warned people to stay away from the city center amid the clashes. Trains to and from the station were halted and local media reported plundering at the station.

Police said more than 100 people were arrested in Amsterdam.

 

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