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In pictures: Thousands protest in Brussels against COVID restrictions

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By Euronews  with AP
Protesters march from a Brussels park to the European Union headquarters on Saturday.
Protesters march from a Brussels park to the European Union headquarters on Saturday.   -   Copyright  Olivier Matthys/AP

Thousands of people descended on La Cambre woods in Brussels on Saturday for a party and protest march designed to flout COVID-19 restrictions.

The participants then marched on the European Union's headquarters, protesting against ongoing safety measures and calling on Europeans to claim back their freedom, amid minor tussles with police.

The marchers were dispersed by early evening. The mass demonstration took place after similar anti-lockdown parties in the park in spring 2021, in which police had resorted to tear gas and water cannons to break up rowdy crowds, resulting in numerous arrests and injuries.

Belgium has been badly-hit by COVID-19, with close to 25,000 deaths recorded in a population of fewer than 12 million. Elsewhere on Saturday, about 1,000 doctors and health workers took part in an authorised protest in the capital to call for better financial support and hospital staffing.

Olivier Matthys/AP
Mounted police look on near the EU headquartersOlivier Matthys/AP
Olivier Matthys/AP
A woman dances at the anti-lockdown protest in Brussels, which took place without police permissionOlivier Matthys/AP
Olivier Matthys/AP
Protesters square up to riot police during the so-called "European Demonstration for Freedom and Democracy"Olivier Matthys/AP
Olivier Matthys/AP
An anti-COVID restrictions demonstrator confronts police in BrusselsOlivier Matthys/AP
Olivier Matthys/AP
A separate demonstration calling for support for Belgian health workers takes place in downtown BrusselsOlivier Matthys/AP
Olivier Matthys/AP
Masked marchers carry a banner reading: "Capital kills the hospital. Money for the healthcare system!"Olivier Matthys/AP
Olivier Matthys/AP
Participants at the authorised rally called for better pay for health workers and improved hospital staffingOlivier Matthys/AP