Violent episodes in the centre of Brussels

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Police Commissioner Vandersmissen receiving treatment.

WHAT was initially expected to be a peaceful protest against Belgium Government austerity measures on May 24 degenerated into a major skirmish between a number of protestors and Belgium police, which has seen the use of water cannons, and the injury of Commissioner of Police Pierre Vandersmissen, who was pictured with what appeared to be a serious head injury.

It is estimated that 60,000 people attended the demonstration, which had been organised by trade unions to protest about the deterioration of employees rights to work in secure positions, and it is claimed by the unions that new laws have cut the earnings of the average worker by €100 a month, whilst wealthy companies avoid paying tax.

Worried that other factions may try to take advantage of the protest, following the recent bomb outrages in Brussels, the authorities tightened security considerably, and it may be that this encouraged extremists to take advantage of the situation when it appears that a small group left the main rally and started attacking police and a train station in Brussels.

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Reports suggest that some police and demonstrators have been injured and that tear gas may have been used to try to bring the disturbances under control, with a reported 10 people arrested.

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