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Dutch police clash with rioters in third night of violence

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In this grab taken from video on Monday, Jan, 25, 2021, people use their phones to film items burning on a fire started by rioters, in Haarlem, Netherlands.
In this grab taken from video on Monday, Jan, 25, 2021, people use their phones to film items burning on a fire started by rioters, in Haarlem, Netherlands.   -   Copyright  AP/AP
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Police used water cannon and tear gas against anti-curfew protesters in several Dutch cities in the third night of riots against coronavirus restrictions on Monday.

At least 70 people were arrested as officers were deployed across the country to prevent a repeat of the previous night’s unrest, which coincided with the first weekend of a new national coronavirus curfew between 9 pm and 4.30 am.

The mayor of the port city of Rotterdam issued an emergency order instructing people in the town centre to leave the area as officers clashed with groups of protesters.

Several shops were looted in the south of the city, the Dutch national broadcaster NOS said.

Peter Dejong/AP
A man clears up a fast-food restaurant with a damaged window in Rotterdam on Monday eveningPeter Dejong/AP

There were also reports of violence and multiple arrests in the southern town of Geleen, near Maastricht, and in Zwolle in the northeast.

Police said smaller protests in The Hague and Amsterdam ended after a few hours.

Government officials sought to draw a distinction between the rioters and those who believed the curfew an infringement of their civil liberties.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte branded the violence “unacceptable”, adding: “This has nothing to do with protesting, this is criminal violence and that's how we'll treat it."

There were clashes in at least 10 towns and cities across the Netherlands on Sunday night.

One of the worst-hit was Eindhoven, where a car was torched as rioters threw rocks and fireworks at officers.

Police detained 62 suspects in the city overnight on Sunday.