Riot police fire water cannons and tear gas amid mass Covid protests in Brussels

24 January 2022, 00:38

By Emma Soteriou

Police have fired water cannons and tear gas in Brussels in a bid to disperse protesters marching against Covid vaccinations and restrictions.

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Thick clouds of smoke and snaking trails of gas filled the air in the Belgian capital as water cannons fired powerful jets at protesters.

It comes as thousands attended the march, with some even travelling from other countries - including France and Germany - to take part.

Protesters yelled "Liberty!" as they marched while others had more violent confrontations with police.

Videos shared online showed black-clad protesters attacking a building used by the European Union's diplomatic service, hurling projectiles at its entrance and smashing windows.

White-helmeted police riot officers later tried to disperse the protesters, who ignored instructions to leave as the demonstrations were over.

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Police used tear gas to bring the rally to an end.
Police used tear gas to bring the rally to an end. Picture: Alamy

A protest leader broadcasting over a loudspeaker yelled, "Come on people! Don't let them take away your rights!" as police officers faced off against demonstrators who hurled projectiles and insults.

"Go to hell!" shouted one protester wearing a fake knight's helmet.

Over three quarters of Belgium's total population has been fully vaccinated, with 53 per cent having also had a booster dose, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Anti-vaxxers also took to the streets in Barcelona, where they wore costumes and waved banners reading "It's not a pandemic, it's a dictatorship," as they marched against against restrictions imposed by both national and regional authorities.

Spain, which has a population of 47 million, has officially recorded over nine million coronavirus cases, although the real number is believed to be much higher.

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