Dozens of rioters have been arrested after another night of anti-lockdown disorder in the Netherlands, during which fireworks were thrown at officers in The Hague.
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 coronavirus restrictions.
Local media outlet Regio 15 reported that rioters threw bicycles, wooden pallets and motorised scooters on one of the fires.
Police said in a tweet that seven people were arrested in The Hague and five officers were injured, while one needed treatment in a hospital.
Elsewhere in the Netherlands, two football matches in the top professional league had to be briefly halted after fans – banned from matches under a partial lockdown in force in the Netherlands for a week – broke into stadiums in the towns of Alkmaar and Almelo on Saturday.
Earlier on Saturday, two protests against Covid-19 measures went off peacefully in Amsterdam and the southern city of Breda.
‘Orgy of violence’
The rioting in The Hague was on a smaller scale than the battles on the streets of Rotterdam on Friday night.
Dutch police opened fire on protesters and seven people were injured in 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 but did say police also fired warning shots.
Photos from the scene showed at least one police car in flames and another with a bicycle slammed through its windscreen. Riot police and a water cannon restored calm after midnight.
It was one of the worst outbreaks of violence in the Netherlands since coronavirus restrictions 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 behaviour. It has nothing to do with demonstrating.”Dutch Justice minister Ferd Grapperhau
Police units from around the country raced to Rotterdam to help bring Friday night’s situation under control. Local media reported that gangs of football hooligans were involved in the rioting.
Video from social media shown on Dutch broadcaster NOS appeared to show a person being shot in Rotterdam, but there was no immediate word on what happened. Police said in a tweet that it was “still unclear how and by whom” the person was apparently shot.
An independent investigation into the shootings by police was opened, as is the case whenever Dutch police use their weapons.
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.