COVID-19: Seventy arrested during anti curfew rioting in Netherlands

At least 70 people have been arrested after a third night of protests in the Netherlands.

The protests were initially about opposition to a curfew imposed by the government to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

However, in some centres they degenerated into rioting and violence with the motivation becoming less clear.

There have been clashes in cities including Amsterdam and Rotterdam, with police using tear gas and water cannon in an effort to disperse rioters.

People threw fireworks, looted shops and turned a car over onto its side, according to national broadcaster NOS.

In the city of Eindhoven, they torched a car, threw rocks and fireworks at officers, smashed windows and looted a supermarket.

Hundreds of rioters had already been arrested during the weekend, including some on suspicion of using social media to call for rioting.

“It is unacceptable,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said after Sunday night’s riots. “This has nothing to do with protesting, this is criminal violence and that’s how we’ll treat it.”

More protests are expected, with police union board member Koen Simmers telling TV programme Nieuwsuur: “We haven’t seen so much violence in 40 years”.

The curfew – which is between 9pm and 4.30pm – is the first in the country since World War Two and was brought in amid fears of the COVID-19 variant discovered in the UK.

But the number of new cases has been declining in the Netherlands – the 4,129 new cases reported on Monday was the lowest daily increase since 1 December.

There have been 13,579 deaths in the Netherlands from COVID-19 and 952,950 infections.

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