İrem UZUN -TDO- Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte condemned "criminal violence" on Monday after protesters against a coronavirus curfew went on the rampage in several cities. "It's unacceptable. All normal people will regard this with horror," Rutte told reporters. “This has nothing to do with protest, this is criminal violence and we will treat it as such,” he added.

Schools and non-essential shops in the Netherlands have been shut since mid-December, following the closure of bars and restaurants two months earlier.  Rutte’s government added the curfew as an additional lockdown measure from Saturday over fears that the British variant of COVID-19 may soon lead to an increase in cases.

The unrest over the weekend marked the worst violence to hit the Netherlands since the pandemic began and saw rioters clash with police in about 10 towns and cities. Authorities on Sunday used water cannon and dogs in a square in the capital, where hundreds of people gathered during the curfew that began on Saturday, public television NOS reported. Videos showed police spraying people grouped against a wall of the Van Gogh Museum. The police have since detained hundreds who participated in the protests, which lasted from Saturday evening until early Monday. Some rioters had thrown rocks and knives at police and burned down a COVID testing station.

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