Fire-fighters met by youngsters bent on violence

A clearer picture is emerging of the scale of the aggression met by Brussels fire-fighters on New Year's Eve.  An incident in the vicinity of the Zwarte Vijvers metro station in Molenbeek marred celebrations in the capital. 

Fire-fighters were called out over eighty times on New Year's Eve.  The figure is three times that of an ordinary night during the weekend.  Responding to a call in Molenbeek fire-fighters encountered a group of youngsters bent on violence.

Walter Derieuw, the spokesman of the Brussels fire service: "Some 30 youths were waiting for our team, ready to hurl stones and other projectiles.  It was very lucky nobody was injured, but our fire engine was bashed about quite a bit.  Wing mirrors and the windscreen at the front were smashed."

Fire-fighters responding to two other calls were met with violence too.  Fire-fighters had to call in the police three times, simply to do their job.

Walter Derieuw: “We’ve noticed growing aggression directed at the fire service.  It's time the judicial authorities take action and prosecute perpetrators!"

During a spate of incidents on New Year's Eve police detained twenty suspects.  Caroline Vervaet of Molenbeek police says youngsters were playing a game of cat and mouse with the police.  A chemist's neat the Zwarte Vijvers metro station was trashed.  Seven cars were torched.  In one incident the flames spread to two empty buildings.

Catherine Moureaux, mayor of Molenbeek, says Brussels municipalities should co-operate more fully to guarantee a state of law and order on New Year's Eve: "Vandals shouldn't have the feeling that they can act with impunity!" 

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