Dutch police arrest 131 people on 'calmer' night of curfew protests

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By Euronews  with AP
A police officers speaks to youths on scooters at a road block in Amsterdam on Tuesday night.
A police officers speaks to youths on scooters at a road block in Amsterdam on Tuesday night.   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Peter Dejong

Police in the Netherlands said the fourth night of demonstrations on Tuesday against a national curfew was "quieter" than the previous three nights of riots.

A total of 131 people were still detained by officers across the country, most for public order offences and incitement.

"It was calmer around the curfew on Tuesday night than the days before,'' police said in a statement.

"Groups of people did gather in the streets in several cities," they added, namely in Hilversum and the capital city, Amsterdam.

Eighty-one of the arrests on Tuesday took place in Rotterdam, while the authorities have noted that many were under the age of 25 and had been incited to demonstrate via social networks.

Violent protests have rocked the Netherlands after the caretaker government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte's ruling coalition announced new restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

"I understand very well that many people in the Netherlands, myself included, find the corona measures tough," PM Rutte said.

This is how Euronews reported unrest on Monday evening

"I even understand that some do not agree with them, but that can never be a reason for this kind of behaviour".

The pandemic is expected to be a key campaign issue before a general election scheduled on March 17.

On Monday, rioters in Rotterdam threw rocks, fireworks, and Molotov cocktails at police and looted shops across the city.

Additional police officers were deployed on Tuesday in anticipation of more unrest, while groups of football supporters also gathered in the streets to "defend their city".

There was also violence on Sunday

Police General Commander Willem Woelen emphasised that they are allowed to express their opinion and share information with the police, but that "enforcement and use of force is reserved for the police".

Meanwhile, authorities in neighbouring Belgium have expressed concerns that the unrest could spread and lead to demonstrations against a similar national curfew of 21:00 CET.

"The violent demonstrations that degenerated in the Netherlands have apparently incited certain people to call, also in our country, for demonstrations against the health measures,'' said the office of Belgian Interior Minister, Annelies Verlinden.