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German and Dutch authorities fear a repeat of violence linked to New Year’s fireworks

Image source, Rex/Shutterstock

Legend,

Some of the worst violence of the past year took place in the Neukölln district of Berlin.

Hundreds of people were seen buying fireworks in Germany and the Netherlands ahead of New Year’s celebrations, despite calls from authorities to curb the use of the festive explosives.

Berlin saw violent riots last year, with fireworks fired at police, starting fires and causing injuries.

Some Dutch cities, including Amsterdam, have banned the use of pyrotechnics.

But this ban should be largely ignored.

Fireworks are traditionally used to celebrate the new year in Germany and the Netherlands, with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day being the only times they can be set off without permission.

But in recent years, the celebrations have come under increased scrutiny.

Last year, dozens of police officers and firefighters were injured during riots in Berlin. Authorities said some were deliberately targeted with fireworks.

Other cities, including Hamburg, Bonn, Dortmund and Essen, also saw violence.

In the Netherlands, last year’s celebrations led to serious injuries, including that of a child in Utrecht who had to have his hand amputated and his right eye removed.

Authorities in Amsterdam have linked the use of fireworks to a fire at a primary school and attacks on police officers.

Anticipating scenes similar to last year, Berlin police on Friday carried out raids on stores suspected of selling illegal fireworks.

Authorities said they discovered seven alleged violations of the law, mainly in the southern district of Neukölln.

Hundreds of Berliners were seen queuing to buy fireworks on Thursday evening.

Barbara Slowik, Berlin’s police chief, said the New Year’s Eve police operation would be “the largest in decades.” She added that she expected the war between Israel and Gaza to worsen tensions.

On December 31, around twice as many police officers as usual will be on the streets of the northern German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Following last year’s violence, mayors and police unions in the Netherlands and Germany called for a ban on the sale of fireworks. Some municipalities like Amsterdam have already implemented bans.

In the Dutch capital, lighting fireworks has been illegal since 2021, although the ban was largely ignored last year.

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