Dutch police fire shots while COVID protests shake Rotterdam | News about Coronavirus pandemic

Dozens arrested and seven injured after protests against partial lockdown become violent.

Dutch police opened fire on protesters and seven people were injured in riots that broke out in the center of Rotterdam around a demonstration against newly introduced COVID restrictions and the government’s plans to restrict the access of unvaccinated people to some venues.

Dutch city mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb told reporters in the early hours of Saturday morning that “police on a number of occasions felt the need to withdraw their weapons to defend themselves” as rioters ran amok through the port city’s central shopping district, setting fire and throwing fire. with stones and fireworks against officers in what Aboutaleb called “an orgy of violence.”

“[The police] shots fired at protesters, people were injured, “said Aboutaleb. He had no details about the injuries. Police also fired warning shots.

A number of police officers were also injured in the violence, with officers arresting dozens of people and expecting to arrest more after studying video footage from security cameras, Aboutaleb said.

The situation had largely calmed down later Friday night, but there was a large police presence.

It was one of the worst outbreaks of violence in the Netherlands since corona restrictions were first introduced last year. In January, rioters also attacked police and set fire to the streets of Rotterdam after a curfew came into force.

The Netherlands went back to Western Europe’s first partial lockdown of the winter season a week ago. The restrictions, which affect restaurants, shops and sports, are expected to remain in place for at least three weeks.

Politiet sagde i en erklæring, at demonstrationen, der startede på Coolsingel gaden, havde “resulteret i optøjer. Der har været påsat brande flere steder. Der blev affyret fyrværkeri, og politiet affyrede adskillige advarselsskud”.

“There is damage related to the shots fired,” they added. They did not give a number, but the Dutch public television station NOS said two people were injured.

Dutch media said hundreds of protesters shouted slogans, including “freedom”, then threw stones at police and firefighters and set fire to several electric scooters. Police used water cannons to try to disperse the crowd.

Pictures from the scene showed at least one police car in flames and another with a bicycle slamming through the windshield.

Protesters take part in a protest against a partial blockade of the coronavirus and a government plan to curb the movements of people who choose not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 [Killian Lindenburg/AFP]

The local political party Leefbaar Rotterdam condemned the violence in a tweet.

“The center of our beautiful city has this evening been transformed into a war zone,” it read. “Rotterdam is a city where one can disagree with things that are happening, but violence is never, never the solution.”

Dutch police said units from across the country were brought in to “restore order” in the city.

Rotterdam authorities issued an emergency order banning people from gathering in the area “to maintain public order” while its main railway station was closed.

Demonstrations are planned in Amsterdam and the southern city of Breda on Saturday. Local media say thousands of people are expected to attend.

The Netherlands is trying to control a new wave of coronavirus, with more than 21,000 new cases reported Friday

The government is now considering excluding the unvaccinated from bars and restaurants, and giving access only to those who have been fully vaccinated or who have recovered from the disease.

Similar steps have already been taken in neighboring Germany. Austria has entered a full lockdown and plans to make vaccines mandatory.

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