A demonstration against coronavirus measures, corruption, and 5G technology turned ugly on Wednesday in Limassol, after some protesters became aggressive and started throwing rocks at police officers.
Around a thousand protesters gathered on Wednesday afternoon in the Enaerios parking area in Limassol where they demonstrated against the government’s latest measures to combat the spread of coronavirus, which included stricter measures for some parts of the island including the southern town.
During the demonstration a subgroup of 100 protesters made use of flares and fireworks, as well as set trash cans on fire, with an organizer pleading with them through the loudspeakers to calm down and remain peaceful.
“They [the government] are trying to scare us but now we are doing it to ourselves,” he said, while also calling on families with children to move to one side of the parking lot away from the commotion.
But later, as anti-mask protesters marched towards the seafront, police officers who had gathered in the area to keep the peace ended up being targeted by rogue hooded demonstrators who threw rocks and other objects.
A petrol bomb was thrown at a patrol car which caught fire, while officers inside the vehicle managed to get out unharmed. Other patrol cars and private vehicles in the area were also damaged according to reports.
Police said fire fighters who were rushing to put out flames in trash cans stopped by the burning vehicle but ended up also being targeted by angry demonstrators. One fire fighter was seriously injured during the incident, while several officers were also injured during the evening.
Seven suspects, aged between 15 and 22, were arrested by 12 midnight following arrest warrants on nine suspects. The arrests came after police officers chased down protesters through the town’s narrow streets.
Police spokesperson Christos Andreou said the youngest suspect also had a small quantity of cannabis in his possession during his arrest.
Andreou pointed out Thursday morning on state radio that authorities were particularly concerned over the young age of perpetrators who recently have been causing serious property damage during incidents.
But leading figures at the demonstration, which was put together online, say the protest was meant to be peaceful.
Reports said multiple chants were heard during the demonstration, including “burn down the parliament brothel” and “put all House representatives in jail.” Another sign criticized police over arresting youths for graffiti recently "instead of going after those responsible for piling up the country's debt."
Additional media reports said the demonstration was also against the use of 5G technology. Limassol has seen many arson attacks recently against targets perceived to be associated with 5G, including cell tower antennas.