COVID protests in Netherlands turn violent for a second night

Fresh rioting has broken out in the Netherlands over the Dutch government’s coronavirus measures, with protesters pelting police with stones and fireworks in The Hague.

Officers in riot gear charged at groups of demonstrators late on Saturday night, while a water cannon was used to put out a pile of blazing bicycles at a busy intersection.

Five police officers were injured, and at least seven people were arrested.

Riots also erupted in the central “Bible Belt” town of Urk and cities in southern Limburg province, while angry fans disrupted two football matches being played behind closed doors because of coronavirus rules, according to Dutch media.

The first division matches in the western city of Alkmaar and the eastern city of Almelo, between AZ-NEC and Heracles-Fortuna Sittard had to be stopped for several minutes, Dutch media said.

The unrest came a day after police opened fire on protesters in Rotterdam amid what the port city’s mayor called “an orgy of violence” that broke out at a protest against COVID-19 restrictions.

At least three people were wounded and 51 arrested in Rotterdam.

It was one of the worst outbreaks of violence in the Netherlands since coronavirus measures were first imposed last year. In January, rioters also attacked police and set fires on the streets of Rotterdam after a curfew came into force.

Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus condemned the events.

“The riots and extreme violence against police officers, riot police and firefighters last night in Rotterdam are disgusting to see,” he said in a statement.

“Protesting is a great right in our society, but what we saw last night is simply criminal behavior. It has nothing to do with demonstrating,” he added.

An independent investigation into the shootings by police was opened, as is the case whenever Dutch police use their weapons.

The Netherlands reimposed some lockdown measures last weekend for an initial three weeks in an effort to slow a resurgence of coronavirus contagion, but daily infections have remained at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic.

The Dutch government is now planning to ban unvaccinated people from entering some venues, the so-called 2G option.

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