Over 80k show up for anti-austerity rally in Brussels, police use water cannon (IMAGES)
Brussels police deployed water cannon against anti-austerity protesters, pictures posted on Twitter showed. Thousands took to the streets of the Belgian capital to protest measures recently introduced by the government.
Bloggers said some protesters began burning waste and pelting stones at the police who responded with a water cannon. The rally itself was drawing to an end at that moment.
Police said that 81,000 people took to the streets in the center of the Belgian capital on Wednesday. The organizers of the protest put the number even higher, speaking of an attendance of around 100,000, AFP reported.
The protest, one of the biggest in Belgium in recent years, started peacefully, but then reports in the local media emerged of isolated clashes between dockers from the northern port city of Antwerp and security forces.
The rally was staged by the country’s three largest unions, who spoke out against austerity and accused Prime Minister Charles Michel of favoring big business at the expense of the workforce.
The large turnout at the rally caused disruption of transport on Wednesday, with some hospitals operating at minimum level of service and schools being left without teachers.
According to La Capitale newspaper, the Wednesday’s rally is likely to be the first in a series of similar protests in autumn.
The unions are also planning a rail strike on Friday, which is expected to affect international Eurostar and Thalys rail services.