Police used water cannons and teargas after coming under attack from football supporters who brought havoc to the center of Brussels on Sunday following Morocco’s shock 2-0 World Cup win over Belgium in Qatar.
Dozens of fans smashed shop windows, threw fireworks and torched vehicles. Police said 11 people had been arrested, with one remaining in custody.
Even before the end of the match, “dozens of people, including some wearing hoodies, sought confrontation with the police, which compromised public safety,” Brussels police said in a statement.
A spokeswoman said some fans were armed with sticks, and a journalist “was injured in the face by fireworks.”
Around a hundred police officers were mobilized while residents were warned to avoid certain city center areas. In addition, Metro stations were closed, and streets were sealed off to limit the spread of the violence.
A surveillance helicopter flew over the city before calm was restored at around 7:00 pm (1800GMT). An AFP journalist saw protesters burning a car, rubbish bins and several electric scooters.
“I condemn in the strongest terms the incidents of this afternoon. The police have already firmly intervened. I, therefore, advise against fans coming to the city center. The police are doing all they can to maintain public order,” tweeted the mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close.
“I have ordered the police to arrest the troublemakers.”
Belgium is home to around 500,000 people of Moroccan descent.
In the eastern city of Liege, a gang of 50 people attacked a police station, breaking windows and damaging two police vehicles. The police there also resorted to water cannons.
Storefronts and a bus shelter were vandalized. Incidents also broke out in Antwerp in the north, where a dozen people were arrested.
Meanwhile, Dutch riot police carried out baton charges in three cities to disperse unruly Moroccan football supporters celebrating their team’s victory.
Police took action in Rotterdam, where some 500 people gathered near the city center, and in The Hague, Amsterdam and Utrecht, Dutch police said.
“Supporters threw fireworks and glass at the riot police who then carried out charges,” Rotterdam police said.
Video images showed police with batons and shields sweeping the city center. Riot police also dispersed fans in Amsterdam and The Hague.
The Netherlands’ large Moroccan community burst into celebrations, lighting torches and fireworks and driving around hooting car horns and waving Moroccan flags shortly after the match ended. (AFP)