Dutch police have opened fire on protesters whose rally against COVID vaccine passports became a riot in the port city of Rotterdam.
The shots wounded at least two protesters, according to police spokesperson Patricia Wessels, who said officers’ lives were in danger as the crowd turned its anger on police.
“We fired warning shots and there were also direct shots fired because the situation was life-threatening,” Ms Wessels told reporters.
“We know that at least two people were wounded, probably as a result of the warning shots, but we need to investigate the exact causes further.”
The rioters torched cars and threw rocks at police who responded with shots and water cannons after a charge by mounted police failed to quell the disturbance.
Several hundred people had gathered to voice opposition to government plans to restrict access to indoor venues to people who have a “corona pass” , showing they have been vaccinated or already recovered from an infection.
The pass is also available to people who have not been vaccinated, but have proof of a negative test.
Public emergency declared
Police issued an emergency ordinance in Rotterdam, shutting down public transportation and ordering people to go home.
Water cannons were deployed and police on horseback carried out charges to disperse the crowds, police said.
The Netherlands reimposed some lockdown measures last weekend for an initial three weeks in an effort to slow a resurgence of coronavirus contagion, but daily infections have remained at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic.
Video posted on social media showed burnt-out police cars and rioters throwing fireworks and rocks at police.