Police opened fire on protesters in rioting that erupted in downtown Rotterdam round an indication in opposition to COVID-19 restrictions late Friday evening. The Dutch metropolis’s mayor referred to as it “an orgy of violence.”

Police mentioned that two rioters have been hospitalized after being hit by bullets and investigations have been underway to ascertain in the event that they have been shot by police. The situation of the injured rioters was not disclosed.

Officers arrested 51 individuals, about half of them minors, police mentioned Saturday afternoon. One police officer was hospitalized with a leg harm sustained within the rioting, one other was handled by ambulance employees and “countless” others suffered minor accidents.

Protesters are seen during demonstrations against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) measures which turned violent in Rotterdam, Netherlands on Friday in this still image obtained from video provided on social media. (REUTERS)

Protesters are seen throughout demonstrations in opposition to coronavirus illness (COVID-19) measures which turned violent in Rotterdam, Netherlands on Friday on this nonetheless picture obtained from video supplied on social media. (REUTERS)

Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb advised reporters within 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 rampaged by means of the port metropolis’s central purchasing district, setting fires and throwing rocks and fireworks at officers.

“They shot at protesters, people were injured,” Aboutaleb mentioned. He didn’t have particulars on the accidents. Police additionally fired warning photographs.

Police combing by means of video footage from safety cameras anticipate to make extra arrests.

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Photos from the scene confirmed not less than one police automobile in flames and one other with a bicycle slammed by means of its windshield.

Riot police and a water cannon restored calm after midnight.

It was one of the worst outbreaks of violence within the Netherlands since coronavirus restrictions have been first imposed final yr. In January, rioters additionally attacked police and set fires on the streets of Rotterdam after a curfew got here into drive.

Damaged police vehicles are seen as protests against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) measures turned violent in Rotterdam, Netherlands, November 19, 2021, in this picture obtained from social media. (REUTERS) 

Damaged police autos are seen as protests in opposition to coronavirus illness (COVID-19) measures turned violent in Rotterdam, Netherlands, November 19, 2021, on this image obtained from social media. (REUTERS) 

Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus condemned the occasions.

“The riots and extreme violence against police officers, riot police and firefighters last night in Rotterdam are disgusting to see,” he mentioned in an announcement.

“Protesting is a great right in our society, but what we saw last night is simply criminal behavior. It has nothing to do with demonstrating,” he added.

Police models from across the nation raced to Rotterdam to assist convey Friday evening’s state of affairs beneath management. Local media reported that gangs of soccer hooligans have been concerned within the rioting.

Video from social media proven on Dutch broadcaster NOS appeared to point out one particular person being shot in Rotterdam, however there was no speedy phrase on what occurred.

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Police mentioned in a tweet that it was “still unclear how and by whom” that particular person was apparently shot.

An unbiased investigation into the shootings by police was opened, as is the case at any time when Dutch police use their weapons.

The authorities has mentioned it needs to introduce a legislation that will permit companies to limit the nation’s coronavirus go system to solely people who find themselves absolutely vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 — that will exclude individuals who take a look at unfavorable.

The nation has seen file numbers of infections in current days and a brand new partial lockdown got here into drive per week in the past.

Local political social gathering Leefbaar Rotterdam condemned the violence in a tweet.

“The center of our beautiful city has this evening transformed into a war zone,” it mentioned. “Rotterdam is a city where you can disagree with things that happen but violence is never, never, the solution.”