Protesters clash with police in Netherlands over Covid lockdown curfew

25 January 2021, 23:16

A vehicle has been set on fire after a large group of young people has sought confrontation with the police on Beijerlandselaan in Rotterdam
A vehicle has been set on fire after a large group of young people has sought confrontation with the police on Beijerlandselaan in Rotterdam. Picture: Getty

By Megan White

Groups of protesters have confronted police in Dutch towns and cities, defying the country's coronavirus curfew and throwing fireworks.

Police in the port city of Rotterdam used a water cannon and tear gas in an attempt to disperse a crowd of rioters.

Trouble was reported in the capital, Amsterdam, where at least eight people were arrested, the central city of Amersfoort, where a car was turned on its side, and other towns before and after the 9pm curfew began.

It was the second night of unrest in towns and cities across the Netherlands that initially grew out of calls to protest against the country's tough lockdown, but degenerated into vandalism by crowds whipped up by messages swirling on social media.

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire on the Groene Hilledijk in Rotterdam
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire on the Groene Hilledijk in Rotterdam. Picture: Getty

Rotterdam police said youths took to the streets "seeking a confrontation with police".

Riot officers attempted to break up the violence and made a number of arrests, before firing tear gas. Police warned people to stay away from the area.

A police officer sweeps up glass from a bus stop that was smashed in protests against a nation-wide curfew in Rotterdam
A police officer sweeps up glass from a bus stop that was smashed in protests against a nation-wide curfew in Rotterdam. Picture: PA

National broadcaster NOS showed video of police using a water cannon and reported that some shops had been looted.

In the southern town of Geleen, police tweeted that youths in the central area were throwing fireworks. Riot police charged at protesters in The Hague.

Smashed windows in a fast-food restaurant in Rotterdam that was damaged in protests
Smashed windows in a fast-food restaurant in Rotterdam that was damaged in protests. Picture: PA

Dutch media reported calls on social media for further violent protests even as the country struggles to contain new coronavirus infections, hospital admissions and deaths.

Police in the southern town of Goes and the North Holland province said they detained people on suspicion of using social media to call for rioting.

"It is unacceptable," Prime Minister Mark Rutte said earlier on Monday of rioting Sunday. "This has nothing to do with protesting, this is criminal violence and that's how we'll treat it."

Worst hit on Sunday was the southern city of Eindhoven, where police clashed with hundreds of rioters who torched a car, threw rocks and fireworks at officers, smashed windows and looted a supermarket at its railway station.