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Brussels police use water cannon on memorial protesters

By Danielle Haynes Follow @DanielleHaynes1 Contact the Author   |   March 27, 2016 at 5:55 PM

BRUSSELS, March 27 (UPI) -- Police in Brussels used a water cannon to break up a group of demonstrators who gathered Sunday at a makeshift memorial dedicated to the 28 victims killed in a terror attack last week.

Some 400 protesters believed to be part of the right-wing The Nation group, stormed the Place de la Bourse square, reportedly confronting Muslim women, making Nazi salutes and chanting "This is our home." Some of them carried anti-Islamic State and anti-terror signs, and some wore black clothing and face masks.

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A spokesman for the Brussels police said 12 people were arrested for allegedly throwing explosive objects at officers. Police also used a water cannon to break up the group as peaceful gatherers at the memorial cheered.

Witness Adam Liston told BBC News that prior to The Nation's arrival, things were peaceful in the public square.

"Then a bunch of skinheads just turned up, marched into the square, and started a major confrontation with the peace protesters. They got in the face of the protesters and police. They set off flares and chanted and it was getting quite ugly," he said.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said it was "highly inappropriate that protesters have disrupted the peaceful reflection at the Bourse."

On Saturday, Brussels authorities canceled a planned "march against fear" planned for Sunday afternoon over strain on the local police force and the level 3 terror threat.

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