THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Politicians and local leaders on Monday condemned rioters who clashed with police in about 10 towns and cities across the Netherlands a day earlier, on the second night of a coronavirus curfew.
"It is unacceptable," Prime Minister Mark Rutte said. "This has nothing to do with protesting, this is criminal violence and that's how we'll treat it."
Worst hit was Eindhoven, where police clashed with hundreds of rioters who torched a car, threw rocks and fireworks at officers, smashed windows and looted a supermarket at the southern city's railway station.
"My city is crying, and so am I," Eindhoven Mayor John Jorritsma told media Sunday night. In an emotional impromptu press conference, he called the rioters "the scum of the earth" and added "I am afraid that if we continue down this path, we're on our way to civil war."
The rioting coincided with the first weekend of the new national coronavirus 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. curfew, but mayors stressed that the violence was not the work of citizens concerned about their civil liberties.
"These demonstrations are being hijacked by people who only want one thing and that is to riot," Hubert Bruls, mayor of the city of Nijmegen and leader of a group of local security organizations, told news talk show Op1 on Sunday night.
Amsterdam police arrested 190 people amid rioting at a banned demonstration Sunday.
Police in Eindhoven said Monday they have so far detained 62 suspects and have launched a large-scale investigation to identify and arrest more. One woman who was not involved in the rioting in Eindhoven was injured by a police horse.
Local residents went to the scene of the rioting Monday morning to help in the cleanup operation.
In the eastern city of Enschede, rioters threw rocks at the windows of a hospital; on Saturday night, youths in the fishing village of Urk torched a coronavirus testing facility. Police in the southern province of Limburg said military police were sent as reinforcements to two cities.
"There is absolutely no excuse," Overseas Development Minister Sigrid Kaag told Dutch television. "This is violence and I hope the police track down all these people and there are heavy punishments."
By MIKE CORDER Associated Press
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