Brussels: Riots

Close to two hundred people were arrested Friday night in riots which lasted up to five hours between Anderlecht (Brussels) football fans and North-African youth. 150 police agents were called in to separate the two groups.

Shortly after 7pm, there were several disturbances between Anderlecht supporters and the police. the supporters tried to reach a large group of immigrants in the De Lindeplein, who had gathered at the Sint-Guido metro-station.

After the Belgian cup finals between RSC Anderlecht and AA Ghent Sunday evening, won by Anderlecht, fights broke out between Anderlecht supporters and immigrant youth. The immigrant youth were threatened by skinheads.

A blog called upon North African youth to "settle matters with the white supporters of the football club Anderlecht" Friday, and to "burn down cafes, houses and cars." More than 600 youth responded to the posting.

The Anderlecht municipality urged everybody to calm down. Mayor Gaëtan Van Goidsenhoven took the threats of violence against white Anderlecht supporters very seriously and called in extra police forces, particularly next to the Constant Vanden Stock stadium and to the Sint-Guido metro station.

Van Goidsenhoven says that already social workers and police were noticably present for several days, and over the next few hours and days the police will be out in force to prevent escalation.

Anderlecht asked meanwhile to close down the blog. The public prosecution is already conducting an investigation into the bloggers, who come from abroad.

The mayor thinks youth from other municipalities also took part in the fights.

Throughout the evening the police tried to keep both groups apart, also through charges with horses. It appeared to work for a while but at 8pom Anderlecht supporters again clashed with the police.

After a period of relative calm, a car with several immigrants was attacked. The car was pelted with stones and other objects, the trunk forced open and emptied. Two passengers, both young men, were injured.

The feelings were re-inflamed elsewhere as well when a large group of Anderlecht supporters trying to get from De Lindeplein to Sint-Guido metrostation, ran into the police. The agents were pelted with stones, beerglasses and crush barriers and had to perform several charges, and a water-cannon was again called in. This incident did not become a real clash.

Two hundred people were arrested, most of immigrant origin. In the Wayezstraat alone 80 youth were arrested, including a number of girls.

The group of immigrant youth which are gathered at the Dapperheidsplein pelted the police with stones. At least one agent was injured. A bus station was smashed to piced, several cars damaged and the shop windows of several stores. According to the police the fire brigade was also attacked.

A water-canon truck of the police going towards Sint-Guido metro-station was attacked by Anderlecht supporters trying to reach the North Africans. The police charged with horses and drove them back to De Lindeplein. The water canon and pepper spray were also called in. Much damage was done to the street.

Due to the riots in Anderlecht, the Brussels transportation company MIVB, didn't let anybody get off in four metro-stations (Jacques Brel, Aumale, Sint-Guido and Veeweyde), by request of the police.

Sources: HLN 1, 2, 3 ,4 (Dutch)

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