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Dublin: 1°C Sunday 28 November 2021

Police use water cannon on right-wing protesters at Brussels victims' shrine

“This is our home” and “The state, Daesh accomplice,” the hooligans shouted.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

POLICE FIRED A water cannon at far-right football hooligans who invaded a square in the Belgian capital that has become a memorial to the victims of the Brussels attacks, an AFP journalist said.

Police took action after about 200 black-clad hooligans shouting nationalist and anti-immigrant slogans moved in on the Place de la Bourse where people were gathering in a show of solidarity with the victims.

“This is our home” and “The state, Daesh accomplice,” the hooligans shouted in unison, using an alternate term for the Islamic State group that claimed Tuesday’s suicide bombings in Brussels that killed 28 peoples.

Scores of people were gathered around the mass of flowers, candles and messages that have been left in front of the ornate former Brussels stock exchange which has been draped in flags and messages of support and sympathy.

“We are football hooligans, we don’t have anything to do with politics,” said Andres, one of the demonstrators. “We are here for the victims and to pay our respects.”

Belgium Attacks Source: AP/Press Association Images

A planned March Against Fear in the city was cancelled amid security fears. However, defiant Belgians gathered near the shrine.

“Not in the name of Islam,” read one banner on the columns of the stately former stock exchange building in Brussels city centre where people, some tearful, milled around under the watchful gaze of heavily-armed police and soldiers.

“This is our dream,” read another among a sea of flags from all over the world, as the carpet of flowers, candles and messages grew steadily larger.

Earlier, the city authorities announced they had arrested four people after 13 raids. A statement from the city prosecutor made no mention of the attacks, which left 31 dead and 340 injured.

It said there were four raids in Mechelen, about 30 kilometres north of Brussels, and one in Duffel, 40 kilometres in the same direction.

Of the 28 who died, 24 have been identified, among them 13 Belgians and 11 foreign nationals, it said. A total 340 people from 19 countries were wounded, of whom 101 remain in hospital — 62 of them in intensive care.

© AFP 2016

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