Thursday, June 20, 2024

Tensions high in the Netherlands after nights of riots

The situation remained calm but tense in the Netherlands on Tuesday evening after three consecutive nights of violent riots over the implementation of a tough coronavirus curfew.

Bracing for further riots, officers made a series of pre-emptive arrests as a precautionary measure, including 17 people in Rotterdam.

However, there was some tension in the west of Amsterdam, police said, where a large group of young men had gathered at the beginning of the curfew at 9 pm.

Several others were arrested in Breda to the south of Amsterdam, with some further tensions in Hilversum, police said, with isolated clashes with smaller groups at the beginning of the curfew.

Police and cities had prepared for major disruption, with shop owners barricading storefronts and mayors issuing emergency orders.

The preparations come after police said they had made at least 184 arrests in the protests that erupted in several cities on Monday night.

The cities of Rotterdam and ‘s-Hertogenbosch were especially rowdy, with about 50 people taken into custody in both places. Attempts were also made to attack the hospital in the latter.

At least 10 police officers were injured in Rotterdam, police chief Fred Westerbeeke told Dutch radio on Tuesday.

The port city saw a particularly violent protest, with hundreds of mostly young people participating, some of them attacking police with fireworks and stones, looting stores and setting blazes.

According to the police, the groups deliberately sought confrontation with officers, during the protests that first began over the weekend.

After the city was left in disarray, Rotterdam’s mayor had one question for them: Are you happy now?

“Does it feel good to have destroyed your city?” Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said on Twitter, directly addressing the rioters. “Are you happy?”

The riots came after the government imposed a curfew at the weekend – the first in the Netherlands since the start of the pandemic – with the aim of slowing the spread of coronavirus variants.

The curfew requires citizens to stay in their homes from 9 pm until 4:30 am every night, or risk a fine.

Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said Tuesday criminals should be quickly punished. He also reiterated that the government would maintain the curfew for the time being.

Police called on citizens to hand over photos and videos of the riots, in order to help track down perpetrators of violence.

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