Police fire shots as demonstrators try to shut down Dutch alert system

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Netherlands will hold national elections on 16 March

Police officers in the Netherlands were forced to fire shots at a protest after members tried to shut down the country’s emergency alert system.

Police in the western city of Rotterdam said they were forced to open fire after protesters failed to listen to instructions to stop.

Ten people were arrested and a police officer received minor injuries.

No-one was seriously hurt in the incident, police said.

An investigation into the incident is being led by the National Prosecutor’s Office.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Sixteen dead so far in anti-government protests

The police in Rotterdam said demonstrators attempting to shut down the country’s emergency network between 1300 local time and 1700 GMT on Wednesday were shouting antisemitic slogans and “beating up and damaging” windows at the front entrance to the watchtower.

Video footage shows police officers firing three warning shots into the air.

“Out of frustration, they used rock and bottles and that is why shots were fired,” a Rotterdam police spokeswoman told Dutch broadcaster RTL Nieuws.

Images tweeted by the International Association of Police Chiefs showed that non-lethal riot gear and rubber pellets were used to protect the watchtower.

Media reports said the security alert system had been seized while police tried to negotiate with the protesters.

Rotterdam was later able to signal the security system had been restored.

According to police, no-one was seriously hurt in the incident and only minor injuries were reported among police officers.

Polls have suggested that the Netherlands will elect a new government on 16 March.

On Wednesday, Labour Party leader Diederik Samsom announced he was quitting his party’s coalition to form a new one with the Liberal Party.

“After a painful decision, I have decided to move on to build a better tomorrow together with D66 and GroenLinks,” he said in a Facebook post.

The new coalition will be a three-way government, bringing the nationalist Party for Freedom and Democracy (PVV) into the government for the first time.

PVV leader Geert Wilders will head a Ministry of Immigration and Security, while his party’s leader Pim Fortuyn’s son Martijn will be foreign minister.

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