‘Yellow jacket’ protesters clash with Belgian police in Brussels

ASSOCIATED PRESS
BRUSSELS
Published 30.11.2018 16:57
Demonstrators get hit by a water cannon during a protest of the yellow jackets in Brussels, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo)
Demonstrators get hit by a water cannon during a protest of the yellow jackets in Brussels, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo)

Police and hundreds of so-called "yellow jackets" protesting high taxes and living costs clashed in Brussels on Friday and dozens were arrested, as the movement that started in France two weeks ago gained traction in Belgium.

Police trucks fired water cannons on protesters who tried to approach government buildings and offices in downtown Brussels and began throwing rocks and paving stones at the barricades.

"Our officers started to use water cannons after they began throwing objects. They were throwing pool balls," Brussels city police spokeswoman Ilse Van De Keere said.

Van De Keere estimated that more than 300 people were involved. Around 60 people were arrested for disturbing public order. Many were carrying objects that police considered to be dangerous, including razor blades, tire levers and pepper spray, she said.

Some were detained for having gas, ski and diving masks, which police saw as a sign that the protesters were expecting tear gas to be used.

Earlier, dozens of protesters wearing the high visibility vests that have become a uniform for the movement blocked city streets with pieces of scaffolding or gathering on roads, causing traffic chaos along major city roads. Some handed out vests to bystanders and people stuck in cars.

Prime Minister Charles Michel has said he is willing to talk with some of their leaders, but it was not immediately clear whether any meeting had taken place or was likely to.

Protest roadblocks were also in place near the city of Charleroi, some 60 kilometers (38 miles) south of Brussels.

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