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'An orgy of violence': Injuries reported after Dutch police open fire during Rotterdam Covid riot

The country has seen record numbers of infections in recent days and a new partial lockdown came into force a week ago.

Image: AP/PA Images

Updated Nov 20th 2021, 12:35 PM

SEVEN PEOPLE WERE injured when Dutch police opened fire on protesters during rioting that erupted in Rotterdam around a demonstration against Covid-19 restrictions.

The city’s mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb called it “an orgy of violence”.

Aboutaleb told reporters in the early hours of Saturday morning that “on a number of occasions the police felt it necessary to draw their weapons to defend themselves” as rioters ran rampage through the port city’s central shopping district, setting fires and throwing rocks and fireworks at officers.

“They shot at protesters, people were injured,” Aboutaleb said.

He did not have details on the injuries.

Police also fired warning shots.

A number of police officers were also injured in the violence and officers arrested dozens of people and expect to arrest more after studying video footage from security cameras, Aboutaleb said.

Photos from the scene showed at least one police car in flames and another with a bicycle slammed through its windscreen.

Police said in a tweet that “there are injuries in connection with the shots” during the violent unrest, while riot police used a water cannon in an attempt to drive hundreds of rioters from a central street in the port city.

Video from social media shown on Dutch broadcaster NOS appeared to show a person being shot, but there was no immediate word on what happened.

Police said they arrested dozens of rioters and expected to detain more. They said about seven people were injured, including police officers, though there were no further details.

Photos in Dutch media showed at least one police car ablaze and another with a bicycle smashed through the windshield.

Local political party Leefbaar Rotterdam condemned the violence in a tweet.

“The centre of our beautiful city has this evening transformed into a war zone,” it said. “Rotterdam is a city where you can disagree with things that happen but violence is never, never, the solution.”

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Police tweeted that rioters started fires and threw fireworks during the rioting and authorities closed the city’s main railway station.

Local media say gangs of soccer hooligans were involved in the rioting.

The government has said it wants to introduce a law that would allow businesses to restrict the country’s coronavirus pass system to only people who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 — that would exclude people who test negative.

The country has seen record numbers of infections in recent days and a new partial lockdown came into force a week ago.

In January, rioting broke out in Rotterdam and other Dutch cities after the government announced a curfew in an attempt to rein in soaring coronavirus infections.

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