A car burns in front of the station on the 18 Septemberplein in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, after a far-right anti-Islam movement Pegida protest Sunday. Photo by Rob Engelaar/EPA-EFE
Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Police in the Netherlands arrested hundreds of rioters, mostly in Amsterdam, as groups of young men in multiple cities vandalized shops and set fires Sunday night.
"This has nothing to do with protest, this is criminal violence and we will treat it as such," Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters Monday.
Dutch police said about 240 arrests had been of anti-curfew rioters and some, in cities like Eindhoven, represent the far-right anti-Islam movement Pegida who threw golf balls and fireworks at police.
In Enschede, rioters threw stones and tried to smash hospital windows. Rioters also smashed store windows in Venlo, Mayor Rob Buchholz reported.
The protests began Saturday in the northern village of Urk, where a COVID-19 testing center was set on fire.
"It is terrible," Hubert Bruls, chairman of the Security Council and mayor of Nijmegen said Monday. "This is not demonstrating, I would call these corona hooligans."
In Amsterdam, a group of about 1,500 people gathered Sunday in spite of curfew restrictions at the Museumplein, where police used water cannons and dogs to break up the protest. About 190 were arrested.
Other unrest took place in Arnhem, Apeldoorn, Breda, The Hague, Helmond, Stein and Tilburg.
Earlier this week, the Dutch parliament announced new coronavirus restrictions including limits on social visiting and a 9:30 p.m. curfew.
The Netherlands has seen 962,153 cases of coronavirus during the pandemic with 13,646 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University online COVID-19 tracker.