Belgium: 43 Arrests After Rioters Stone Police, Fire Shots from Stolen Service Weapon

Olivier Gouallec/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of people have been arrested in the Brussels municipality of Anderlecht after migration-background youths staged a riot and fired shots from a stolen police service weapon.

The trigger for the riot in the European Union capital — which is under strict lockdown as Belgium experiences one of the worst per capita coronavirus death tolls in the world — seems to have been the death of a 19-year-old identified as “Adil”.

The young suffered fatal injuries after running a police checkpoint on a scooter and subsequently colliding with a police van which was sent as back-up, according to POLITICO.

Calls for a “protest” soon followed, despite bans on public gatherings, and video footage shows youths who appear to be from a migration background trashing police vehicles with slabs of stone in the middle of the street.

Reports indicate that the “protest” escalated to the point of an individual disguised by a balaclava firing shots from a handgun which was stolen from the police, ending in at least 43 arrests.

“Toward 8 p.m. [on Saturday], the situation was under control in the entire area,” claims the local mayor Fabien Cumps.

“There was a new spike in violence, a more limited one, around 10 p.m., with stones thrown at a police station (windows were broken), but this was rapidly repressed by police,” he added.

Mayor Cumps suggested that the rioters “clearly” were not gathering “in memory of young Adil”, but in order “to be violent”.

Patrick Evenepoel, who leads the police in Anderlecht, admitted that the police “didn’t intervene right away” when the youths began gathering, in defiance of the lockdown, but said they had to take action “when we saw that groups of young people were arming themselves with rocks taken from construction sites in the area.”

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