Villagers torch virus testing centre in Netherlands

Published January 25, 2021
Police uses a water canon during a protest against restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease in Amsterdam on Jan 24. — Reuters
Police uses a water canon during a protest against restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease in Amsterdam on Jan 24. — Reuters

URK (The Netherlands): Rioting youths protesting on the first night of a Dutch curfew torched a coronavirus testing facility and clashed with police in a fishing village.

Police said on Sunday they fined more than 3,600 people nationwide for breaching the curfew that ran from 9pm on Saturday until 4:30am on Sunday and arrested 25 people for breaching the curfew or for violence.

Video from the village of Urk, 80 kilometres northeast of Amsterdam, showed youths breaking into the coronavirus testing facility near the village’s harbour before it was set ablaze on Saturday night.

The police and the municipality issued a statement on Sunday expressing their anger at rioting, from throwing stones and fireworks to destroying police cars and with the torching of the test location as a deep point.

“This is not only unacceptable, but also a slap in the face, especially for the local health authority staff who do all they can at the test centre to help people from Urk,” the local authorities said, adding that the curfew would be strictly enforced for the rest of the week.

On Sunday, all that remained of the portable building used to administer coronavirus tests was a burned-out shell.

Police in Amsterdam also were bracing for another protest on Sunday, sending officers to a square where demonstrators clashed with police a week ago. The city’s municipality designated the square a risk area, a move that gave police extra powers to frisk people.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2021

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