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24 January 2021

Dutch police use water cannon and tear gas against lockdown protesters in Amsterdam and Eindhoven

24 January 2021

Rioters have set fires in the Dutch city of Eindhoven and pelted police with rocks at a banned demonstration against coronavirus lockdown measures, while officers responded with tear gas and water cannons, arresting at least 30 people.

Police in the capital of Amsterdam also used a water cannon to disperse an outlawed anti-lockdown demonstration in a major square ringed by museums. Video showed police spraying people grouped against a wall of the Van Gogh Museum.

It was the worst violence to hit the Netherlands since the pandemic began and the second straight Sunday that police had clashed with protesters in Amsterdam.

The country has been in a tough lockdown since mid-December which is due to continue at least until February 9.

In Eindhoven, 80 miles south of Amsterdam, a central square near the main railway station was littered with rocks, bicycles and shattered glass.

The crowd of hundreds of demonstrators was believed to include supporters of the anti-immigrant group Pegida, which had sought to demonstrate in the city.

The burned-out testing facility in Urk (AP)

Eindhoven police said they had made at least 30 arrests and warned people to stay away from the city centre. Trains to and from the station were halted and local media reported looting at the station. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The violence came a day after anti-curfew rioters torched a coronavirus testing facility in the Dutch fishing village of Urk.

Video from Urk, 50 miles north east of Amsterdam, showed youths breaking into the coronavirus testing facility near the village’s harbour before it was set alight on Saturday night.

The lockdown was imposed by the government to rein in the spread of the more transmissible variant of the coronavirus.

Police said they had fined more than 3,600 people nationwide for breaching the curfew that ran from 9pm on Saturday until 4.30am on Sunday, and arrested 25 people for breaching the curfew or for violence.

The police and municipal officials issued a statement on Sunday expressing their anger at rioting, “from throwing fireworks and stones to destroying police cars and with the torching of the test location”.

“This is not only unacceptable, but also a slap in the face, especially for the local health authority staff who do all they can at the test centre to help people from Urk,” the local authorities said, adding that the curfew would be strictly enforced for the rest of the week.

On Sunday, all that remained of the portable testing building was a burned-out shell.

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