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70 arrested in Brussels during 'yellow vest' protest

The area housing European institutions including the offices of the European Commission and the European Parliament was sealed off as a precautionary measure.

Riot police clash with men wearing "yellow vests" (gilets jaunes) protestors on 8 December 2018 near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris during a protest against rising costs of living they blame on high taxes. Picture: AFP.

BRUSSELS - Around 70 people were arrested Saturday in the Belgian capital Brussels during copycat "yellow vest" demonstrations rocking neighbouring France, police said.

The area housing European institutions including the offices of the European Commission and the European Parliament was sealed off as a precautionary measure.

Police put up barricades there and both vehicles and pedestrians were denied access.

The protesters gathered in two districts of the city -- Arts Lois and Porte de Namur -- but there were no incidents of violence.

"There have been around 70 arrests following checks carried out as a preventive measure," Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse Van De Keere told AFP.

According to Belga news agency, young protesters blocked a highway linking Brussels to the town of Rekkem in Flanders, located near the French border.

They also put up a barricade near the Franco-Belgian border close to Adinkerque, Belga said.

The "yellow vest" movement in France originally started as a protest about planned fuel hikes but has morphed into a mass protest against President Emmanuel Macron's policies and top-down style of governing.

It has spilled over to some other countries, including Belgium and especially in the country's French-speaking region.

On 30 November, a "yellow vest" protest by some 300 people in Brussels degenerated into violence in which two police vehicles were torched.

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