At least two people were wounded by police gunfire in the Dutch city of Rotterdam after a protest over renewed Covid-19 restrictions spiraled into a violent riot, seeing demonstrators torch a squad car and clash with officers.

A large crowd of protesters showed up at Rotterdam’s iconic Coolsingel street on Friday evening to denounce a new round of pandemic measures, including an ongoing partial lockdown, a ban on New Year’s Eve fireworks displays, as well as fears the government will impose a ‘2G’ pass system allowing only the vaccinated and those who’ve recently recovered from the virus to enter a long list of public places.

Anti-lockdown protests in ??Rotterdam, Netherlands


At least two people were wounded during the demonstration, a local police spokesperson told Reuters, adding the injuries were “probably” due to officers’ “warning shots” but also noting that “direct shots were fired because the situation was life-threatening” to law enforcement.

Footage of the heated protest circulated online, some clips showing a police squad car fully engulfed in flames after it was apparently torched by rioters.

?? Pays-Bas : Des émeutes sont en cours à #Rotterdam en marge d’une manifestation contre les restrictions sanitaires.⚠️ Soyez prudents si vous êtes dans cette zone.

?? #Rotterdam : Scènes de chaos dans les rues de Rotterdam.

Demonstrators were also seen launching fireworks at police, who appeared to respond with large quantities of tear gas, which at one point blanketed the area.

?? #Rotterdam : Scènes de chaos dans les rues de Rotterdam.

Violent protests against #coronavirus-restrictions in #Rotterdam today, Netherlands.Choas and sound of explosions.

Local law enforcement said that officers deployed a mobile riot control unit to Coolsingel and unleashed water cannons on protesters who refused to clear the streets, also noting that some arrests were made after an emergency order was imposed to cordon off the area.

#Rotterdam oggi 19/11/21 città nel caos

The Dutch government announced the fireworks ban earlier on Friday, saying it is meant to “prevent, as much as possible, extra strain on health care, law enforcement and first responders.” However, while private displays are prohibited, officials said that local governments may still put on fireworks shows so long as their Covid-19 restrictions allow it.

The Netherlands currently has a ‘3G’ rule in place, allowing the vaccinated, the recently recovered, as well as those who test negative for the virus to enter most public spaces. But as the country remains under a partial three-week lockdown to rein in growing infections, officials are now mulling the stricter ‘2G’ scheme, prompting the intense demonstrations seen on Friday night.

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