, THE HAGUE, Sep 22 – Dutch police detained 34 people when rioting broke out as thousands of party-goers invaded a small town for a teenager’s birthday after her Facebook invite went viral, local officials said on Saturday.
The individuals will be charged with public disturbance and more arrests could be expected after police study pictures taken of the Friday night clashes in the sleepy northern town of Haren, police chief Oscar Drots told a press conference aired on public television.
“An innocent call on Facebook to party led to riots, destruction, looting, fires and injuries in the centre of the town,” Haren mayor Rob Bats said at the press conference, adding that 500 police officers had been called to the scene.
Twenty-nine people, including three officers, sustained injuries but none were serious, according to Dutch media.
“This cannot be tolerated,” Dutch Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten said, cited by ANP, as Haren cleared up the mess.
“The authors of these acts will be judged, punished and should pay for the damage done.”
The police had been on high alert after the schoolgirl posted a message inviting friends to her 16th birthday party on Friday, but forgot to mark it as a private event, prompting more than 20,000 replies.
Local officials said between 3,000 and 5,000 people turned up in the town of 18,000 residents.
Officials had prepared for trouble by blocking access to the girl’s street, banning alcohol consumption near her home and having the teenager herself quit the premises.
But riot police were still forced to intervene when a couple of hundred young drunks tried to get into the street.
Dutch news agency ANP quoted a correspondent as saying police were pelted with stones, bottles, tubs of flowers and even bicycles.
Groups of rioters then moved to the centre of the town where they wrecked cars, fencing, street lamps and signs.
Some of the party-goers wore T-shirts bearing the words “Project X Haren,” an allusion to the 2012 US teen film “Project X” – about a suburban birthday party that gets out of control after an invitation goes viral.
Several websites had sprung up dedicated to the party, with one publishing the girl’s address and adding, “By all means bring some friends!”
Previous “Project X” parties have run riot in different parts of the world including Germany, Australia and especially the United States, where teens wrecked an unoccupied Texas home, causing damage of up to $100,000.