World Cup riots in Brussels after Morocco win over Belgium
Police used water cannons and tear gas after being attacked by football fans who wreaked havoc in central Brussels on Sunday following Morocco’s shock 2-0 World Cup win over Belgium in Qatar .
Dozens of fans smashed store windows, set off fireworks and set vehicles on fire.
Police said 11 people had been arrested and one remained in custody.
Even before the end of the match, “dozens of people, some of whom were wearing hoodies, sought to clash with the police, which compromised public safety,” Brussels police said in a statement.
A spokeswoman said some fans were armed with sticks and a reporter “was injured in the face by fireworks”.
A hundred police officers were mobilized while residents were warned to avoid certain areas of the city center. Metro stations have been closed and streets cordoned off to limit the spread of violence.
A surveillance helicopter flew over the city before calm was restored around 7:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m. GMT). An AFP reporter saw protesters burning a car, garbage cans and several electric scooters.
“I condemn in the strongest terms the incidents of this afternoon. The police have already firmly intervened. I therefore advise fans not to come to the city center. The police are doing everything they can to maintain public order, ”tweeted the mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close.
“I have ordered the police to make the arrests of the troublemakers.”
Belgium is home to approximately 500,000 people of Moroccan origin.
In the eastern city of Liège, a gang of 50 attacked a police station, smashing windows and damaging two police vehicles. The police also used water cannons.
Shop windows and a bus shelter were vandalized. Incidents also broke out in Antwerp in the north where a dozen people were arrested.
Meanwhile, Dutch riot police launched baton charges in three towns to disperse unruly Moroccan football fans celebrating their team’s victory.
Police intervened in Rotterdam, where some 500 people gathered near the city center, as well as in The Hague, Amsterdam and Utrecht, Dutch police tweeted.
“Supporters threw fireworks and glass at riot police who then laid charges,” Rotterdam police said.
Video footage showed police with batons and shields sweeping downtown. Riot police also dispersed supporters in Amsterdam and The Hague.
The large Moroccan community in the Netherlands erupted in celebrations, lighting torches and fireworks and driving around honking and waving Moroccan flags shortly after the match ended.
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