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Rioters torch Covid testing facility as Dutch police clash with lockdown protesters in Amsterdam

April Roach
·2-min read

Watch: Water cannon fired at Dutch lockdown protest

Dutch police used water cannons to disperse hundreds of protesters in Amsterdam demonstrating against a new lockdown curfew that was introduced to curb the spread of coronavirus.

It comes after rioting youths set a coronavirus testing facility on fire in Urk, a small fishing village in the Netherlands on Saturday.

Police clashed with protesters taking part in the outlawed anti-lockdown demonstration in Amsterdam’s Museum Square on Sunday.

Officials said many of the protesters failed to social distance and were not wearing protective face masks.

<p>Police use a water canon during a protest against restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Amsterdam</p> (REUTERS)

Police use a water canon during a protest against restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Amsterdam

(REUTERS)

Video footage showed the water cannon spraying a group of people against the wall of the Van Gogh museum.

Police in Eindhoven, 80 miles south of Amsterdam, also used a water cannon and tear gas against a crowd of demonstrators that included supporters of the anti-immigrant group Pegida.

The protesters were seen without face masksANP/AFP via Getty Images
The protesters were seen without face masksANP/AFP via Getty Images

Eindhoven police said they made at least 30 arrests and warned people to stay away from the city centre. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

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.

The unrest followed a night of rioting in Urk on the first night of a curfew imposed by the Dutch government to rein in the spread of the more transmissible variant of the coronavirus.

Police officers ride horses during a protest against restrictions in AmsterdamREUTERS
Police officers ride horses during a protest against restrictions in AmsterdamREUTERS

Police said on Sunday that 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.

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.

All that remained of the portable testing building was a burned-out shell.

A man takes a photograph of a torched drive-in coronavirus test centre in the port UrkANP/AFP via Getty Images
A man takes a photograph of a torched drive-in coronavirus test centre in the port UrkANP/AFP via Getty Images

The police and municipality 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.

Additional reporting by Associated Press.

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