Mounted police officers charged at and trampled park-goers before turning water cannons on them as thousands of revellers packed a park in Belgium for a lockdown-breaching festival that was arranged as an April Fool’s joke.
Clashes erupted as police attempted to clear the Brussels park, with several officers and their horses and at least eight party-goers injured.
Footage showed one woman being knocked unconscious as a police horse smashed into her as she looked the other way. Reports said she was one of two people taken to hospital in an unknown condition.
Up to 5,000 people decended on Bois de la Cambre park in Brussels for ‘La Boum’ – French for ‘The Party’ – an event originally announced on Facebook as a joke.
Despite Belgium’s Covid rules barring gatherings of more than four people, the revellers had seemingly hoped to be treated ‘eight stages, a hundred DJs and zero coronavirus rules’ and acts including a one-off reunion of recently split French dance group Daft Punk.
Instead, they met with a stern response from the city’s police force after the moyor had demanded the youngsters disperse.
When they refused to leave, police on horseback charged into the crowd while other officers fired water cannons and used tear gas against rowdy party-goers.
Last month, Belgium authorities announced a raft of stricter measures to combat a third wave of Covid-19 sweeping through Europe.
The country has a 10pm curfew in place in most areas and all bars, cafés and restaurants are closed – as are all of Belgium’s schools.
Non-essential shops are open but they can only be visited with a pre-booked appointment.
And, as of March 24, all outdoor gatherings are limited to just four people.
Organisers of the La Boum festival told party-goers that the event was fake several times leading up to April 1.
But even so, police officers were forced to rush in clear lockdown-breaching revellers from the park at around 5pm.
Those who refused to leave began throwing objects – including bottles – at police.
It was then that officers began using water cannons, tear gas, pepper spray and a drone to break up the party, local paper The Brussels Times reports.