‘Violence orgy;’ Dutch police opened fire on thugs

The Hague, Netherlands (Associated Press)-Police opened fire on protesters and a demonstration against COVID-19 restrictions broke out in the center of Rotterdam, injuring 7 people. The mayor of the Dutch city called it a “violent carnival.”

Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb told reporters in the early hours of Saturday morning that “in many cases, the police deemed it necessary to pull out their weapons to protect themselves” as the rioters ran across the center of the port city. In the shopping area, set fires and throw stones and set off fireworks at the officers.

“They shot at the protesters and some were injured,” Aboutaleb said. He did not elaborate on the injury. The police also fired warning shots.

Aboutaleb said that some policemen were also injured in the violence. The police arrested dozens of people. After studying the security camera video, it is expected that more people will be arrested.

Photos at the scene showed that at least one police car caught fire and another bicycle broke through the windshield.

After midnight, the riot police and the water cannon returned to calm.

This is one of the worst violent incidents in the Netherlands since the coronavirus restrictions were first imposed last year. In January, after the curfew took effect, the rioters also attacked the police and set fire on the streets of Rotterdam.

Police forces from all over the country rushed to Rotterdam to help control the situation on Friday night. Local media reported that a gang of football hooligans was involved in the riots.

A social media video broadcast on the Dutch broadcaster NOS appeared to show that a person was shot and killed in Rotterdam, but did not immediately explain what happened.

The police stated in a tweet that it is not clear how and by whom the person was apparently shot.

An independent investigation into police shootings has begun, and the Dutch police do this every time they use weapons.

The government has stated that it hopes to enact a law that allows companies to restrict the country’s coronavirus passport system to only people who have been fully vaccinated or who have recovered from COVID-19 — which would exclude people who have tested negative.

The country’s number of infections hit a record high in recent days, and the new partial blockade took effect a week ago.

The local political party Leefbaar Rotterdam condemned the violence on Twitter.

“The center of our beautiful city has become a war zone tonight,” it said. “Rotterdam is a city where you can disagree with what happened, but violence is never the solution.”

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Follow the Associated Press’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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