Dutch police use water cannon on anti-government protesters

Police in Amsterdam have turned a water cannon on hundreds of demonstrators who were taking part in a banned protest against the Dutch government and its tough coronavirus lockdown

Police on horseback also moved in to break up the demonstration on a large square ringed by museums, including the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum.

Amsterdam municipality said riot police took action to disperse the crowd because people weren't adhering to social distancing measures.

By mid-afternoon, the square was empty apart from dozens of police, although some protesters remained in streets nearby.

The demonstration had been banned earlier in the week because of fears that too many people would attend and not stick to social distancing.

The protest in Amsterdam happened as ministers in the Netherlands' caretaker government were meeting in The Hague to discuss options to rein in the spread of the coronavirus, including the possibility of imposing a curfew for the first time since the pandemic began.

The government resigned Friday following publication of a damning report into a scandal involving thousands of parents being falsely labeled fraudsters by tax officials, but the ministers are remaining in power until a new coalition is formed following a March 17 general election.