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Violent brawl between football fans shakes central Brussels

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By Joshua Askew  with AFP
CCTV of the violence that has been shared with Euronews
CCTV of the violence that has been shared with Euronews   -   Copyright  Cleared   -  

Masked hooligans caused thousands of euros worth of damage to a Brussels brasserie after a violent brawl in the Belgian capital on Wednesday. 

Videos on social media shows chairs, tables and other objects being hurled at the Falstaff cafe.

People in the surrounding area are seen fleeing, as the sound of smashing glass and shouting rings out in the background. 

The confrontation involved supporters of Anderlecht, a Belgium team, and the Young Boys of Bern from Switerzland.

"At first I thought it was a terrorist attack,” said Karim Khey who was working at the cafe last night. “I didn't understand what was happening.”

“I was very scared,” he continued, adding that all the glass in the facade of Falstaff was destroyed and many tables and chairs were left broken.

A spokeswoman for the Brussels police said the cafe was ransacked "following a confrontation between supporters of the two clubs".

The art deco windows of the building, which has been classified as a historical monument since 2000, were severely damaged by the projectiles launched from the group, with many wearing their hoods up.

While he could not give an exact figure, Khey estimated that the brawl had caused thousands of euros in damage, with the period glass front dating back to the 1900s. 

Business at the cafe was subdued on Thursday, with it being "very quiet and very calm" when it is "normally very busy at this time of day," according to Khey. 

People might have been "scared away" by the violence, Khey suggested.

Mayor of Brussels Philippe Close arrived at the scene shortly after the incident, while the owner of the Brussels Brasserie was left in a state of shock, according to the Belgium daily La Dernier Heure.

Twenty-three Swiss nationals were "administratively arrested" by police in Brussels South, who also found brass knuckles amongst the group. 

Authorities have launched an investigation into the disorder and said they will also take action against all the Anderlecht supporters involved.

Analysis of images captured by surveillance cameras is currently in progress.

Wednesday's incident follows a confrontation in the first leg in Switzerland, during which around 40 Anderlecht supporters were attacked on the terrace of a bar, according to Belgian police. 

Anderlecht won that match 1-0.

The teams are set to play the second leg of the Europa Conference League play-off match on Thursday.