No fewer than 240 anti-lockdown protesters have been arrested and detained by the Dutch police over a demonstration that had turned violent across the country.
As stated, the protesters looted stores, set fires, and clashed with police in several Dutch cities on Sunday, resulting in more than 240 arrests.
It was learnt the unrest came on the second day of new, tougher coronavirus restrictions, including a night curfew, which prompted demonstrations.
Witnesses said that police used water cannons, dogs, and mounted officers to disperse a protest in central Amsterdam on Sunday afternoon and that nearly 200 people, some of them throwing stones and fireworks, were detained in the city.
The Dutch police had also deployed riot police in at least 10 cities and towns after a curfew went into effect at 9 p.m. (2000 GMT) and that the officers would be supported by Military police in at least two cities in the south.
Images on Dutch television showed bands of youths looting shops, throwing bicycles, and setting fires in the southern city of Eindhoven. At least 55 people were arrested in Eindhoven, the city said in a statement.
The demonstration in the city’s Museum Square, which violated a ban on public gatherings, came the day after the government introduced a nightly curfew for the first time since World War Two.
Police cleared the square after people ignored instructions to leave and detained those who attacked them with stones and fireworks in nearby streets, the mayor’s office said.
Parliament voted narrowly last week to approve the curfew, swayed by assertions that a variant of COVID-19 first identified in Britain was about to cause a new surge in cases. New infections in the country have generally been declining for a month, and fell again on Sunday, to 4,924 new cases.
There have been 13,540 deaths in the Netherlands from COVID-19 and 944,000 infections.
On Saturday night, police had arrested 25 people across the country and handed out 3,600 fines for curfew violations.
Schools and non-essential shops in the Netherlands have been shut since mid-December, following the closure of bars and restaurants two months earlier.