Some 34 people were arrested as the Project X Haren viral party generated into a riot as a ‘small group of youths’ went on the rampage on Friday evening, Dutch media report.
The smart Groningen commuter suburb has been left in chaos. ‘The whole village is littered with bottles and cans, street furniture, bikes and fences have been overturned,’ Nos reporter Martijn van der Zande said.
The local Albert Heijn supermarket was plundered after shop windows were smashed and staff forced to flee through a back door, Nos says. ‘We are not open,’ one shop worker said on Saturday. ‘Today we have to clear up the mess.’ Washing powder and other products are scattered nearby, the Telegraaf reports.
One local told the Nos, the residents are in shock. ‘It was all done by a group of nutcases,’ one told the broadcaster. ‘I just don’t understand it.’
Several thousand youngsters turned up in the village of 18,000 people on Friday evening after a girl’s 16th birthday party, announced on Facebook, went viral and became a mass hype.
Eyewitnesses said the ‘party’ began in good humour as locals turned up to see what was going one. But later in the evening, several thousand youngsters gathered by the barriers police had used to shut off the street.
Many had been drinking and started to throw bottles at the police. The fences were thrown over and the police intervened. According to the Volkskrant, at least one car was set on fire and police used teargas to try to break up the crowds.
Local police chiefs told a news conference on Saturday morning 500 police officers, including 250 riot police, had been involved in the operation. The trouble was not caused by school children but ‘organised troublemakers,’ police chief Oscar Dros said.
By 03.00 police had cleared the area. At least 30 people were taken to two hospitals in Groningen, some of whom had been hit by flying glass. Others had broken bones. No-one was kept in overnight.
Youths who were stranded on Zwolle train station after missing the last train home smashed windows and damaged fire extinguishers, Nos said.
Police have described the riots as a ‘worst case scenario’. They hope camera and video footage will allow them to identify other rioters. The council says it plans to try to reclaim the cost of the policing operation and the clean-up from the youths who have been arrested.
Nos reports that 15,000 people have now ‘liked’ a Facebook appeal for people to come and help clear up the mess.
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