Riots in Brussels after Morocco beat Belgium at World Cup

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Police had to seal off parts of the center of Brussels, deploy water cannons and fire tear gas to disperse crowds following violence during and after Morocco’s 2-0 upset win over Belgium at the World Cup.

Dozens of rioters overturned and torched a car, set electric scooters on fire and pelted cars with bricks. Police moved in after one person suffered facial injuries, said Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse Van de Keere.

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Brussels mayor Philippe Close urged people to stay away from the city center and said authorities were doing their utmost to keep order in the streets. Even subway and tram traffic had to be interrupted on police orders.

“The rioters used pyrotechnic material, projectiles, sticks, and set fire on the public highway,” the police said. “Also, a journalist was injured in the face by fireworks. It is for these reasons that it was decided to proceed with a police intervention, with the deployment of water cannon and the use of tear gas.”

Police detained 12 people and made one arrest, with Van de Keere later saying: “Around 7 p.m. calm returned and preventive patrols remain in place in the sectors concerned.”

“Those are not fans, they are rioters. Moroccan fans are there to celebrate,” Close said. There were also disturbances in the city of Antwerp and Liege.

“Sad to see how a few individuals abuse a situation to run amok,” said Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden.

Police in the neighboring Netherlands said violence erupted in the port city of Rotterdam, with riot officers attempting to break up a group of 500 soccer supporters who pelted police with fireworks and glass. Media reported unrest in the capital Amsterdam and The Hague.

Morocco’s victory was a major upset at the World Cup and was enthusiastically celebrated by fans with Moroccan immigrant roots in many Belgian and Dutch cities.

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