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20th Nov 2021

Multiple injuries after police fire at anti-lockdown protesters in Rotterdam

Simon Bland


Riots resulted in more than 50 arrests and many people left injured

Chaos has erupted in Rotterdam after anti-lockdown protestors set off fireworks, threw rocks at police and torched cars in what has been described as an “orgy of violence” by the city’s mayor.

Trouble started in the early hours of Saturday when demonstrators took to the streets in protest of the Netherlands’ recent attempt to halt growing cases of coronavirus by restricting indoor access to venues to those who have a ‘corona pass’ which shows that they have been vaccinated or have recovered from infection.

However things soon turned violent with hundreds of rioters setting fire to cars and throwing objects at police, forcing authorities to respond with water cannons and gun shots.

An emergency directive was issued, ordering people to return home and temporarily halting public transport – with police units from across the country drafted in to restore order, according to reports and images from Sky News.

“Police were forced to draw their weapons and even fire direct shots,” explained city Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, adding that the scene was “an orgy of violence, I can’t think of another way to describe it.”

A spokesperson for Rotterdam police, Patricia Wessels added: “We fired warning shots and there were also direct shots fired because the situation was life-threatening.

“Unfortunately, around seven people were injured, including on the side of the police.”

Rotterdam police have reportedly already arrested 50 people, half of whom were under 18, with more arrests expected in the coming days, according to reports by the Guardian.

According to the same report, police have said that two rioters were were wounded and remain in hospital.

Meanwhile, local political party Leefbaar Rotterdam compared the scenes in the city to a “war zone”, insisting that “Rotterdam is a city where you can disagree with things that happen but violence is never, never, the solution.”

Last week, the Dutch government introduced restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus which included a three-week partial lockdown that required shops and restaurants to close their doors early. Households are only allowed to admit four guests and spectators are currently restricted from attending sporting events.

The move comes as authorities reported more than 23,000 new covid cases as of last Thursday November 18 – a daily figure that is well above the 13,000 that was reached during December 2020.

The Netherlands’ ‘corona pass’ is also available to those who are unvaccinated but able to provide proof of a negative test.

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