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.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

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.

Read more: Andy Coulson: Doctor’s bravery on Covid-19 front line highlights ‘betrayal’ of No10 parties

Read more: 'Time to be ourselves again': Almost all of Ireland's covid restrictions lifted

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.

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Biden Supreme Court Abortion

Joe Biden: Abortion rights ruling is ‘sad day for court and country’

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

Judge makes jury’s 10.3 million dollar award official in Depp-Heard trial

Supreme Court

Governors announce ‘West Coast offence’ to protect abortion

Supreme Court Abortion

Right to abortion overturned by US Supreme Court

Spain Morocco Migrants

Five migrants killed and scores injured during bid to reach Spanish enclave

Turkey Wildfire

Wildfire close to Turkish resort ‘largely under control’

A goat set off a series of Russian booby traps in Ukraine (file image)

‘Goat of Kyiv’ leaves 40 Russians injured after setting off grenade booby trap

Brazil Amazon

Indigenous groups mourn Amazon expert killed alongside UK journalist

Cop26 – Glasgow

UN chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ due to global food shortage

Spain Morocco Migrants

130 migrants breach border between Morocco and Spanish enclave

Italy Pompeii Turtle

Remains of pregnant tortoise shed light on Pompeii’s destruction

Afghanistan Earthquake

Aftershock hits eastern Afghanistan after quake death toll rises to 1,150

Norway Bow and Arrow attack

Norwegian sentenced to psychiatric care after bow-and-arrow murders

Anita Alvarez fainted underwater during a competition and was rescued by her coach

'Uh oh, I don't feel great': Drowning swimmer breaks silence after coach's dramatic rescue

The sculpture of prominent Italian poet Dante Alighieri is protected by sandbags, on Vladimir’s Hill in Kyiv, Ukraine

Ukrainian army to retreat from battered city to avoid encirclement

Wallyford crash

Lorry crash in East Lothian sees part of east coast mainline closed