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Posted by portugalpress on June 27, 2017

Around 50 anti-riot police officers were called to Albufeira’s Oura bar district to break up a brawl that started among a large group of young British holidaymakers.

The row broke out at around 3am on Monday (June 26) at the popular Liberto’s Bar during an ‘All White’ party and saw police firing at least two bullets into the air to disperse the crowds and quell the unrest before making four arrests.

According to media reports, two Brits were injured in the violence along with two police officers.

The debate now centres on whether police were too forceful and aggressive.

Some tourists caught up in the violence have accused the police of overreacting, although local business owners say that the group that travelled to the Algarve as part of an organised trip called ‘Portugal Invasion’ had acted “disgracefully” during their stay in Albufeira.

Liberto Mealha, owner of the bar where the trouble started, told Correio da Manhã tabloid that the group “took over the bar”.

“Our security guards could not control them and we had to call the GNR to disperse them,” he said, urging tour operators and hotels to do something to stop such large groups from travelling together to the region.

He also said that the group was responsible for thefts in supermarkets and souvenir shops and damage to some rented scooters which tourists were driving without helmets or the proper licences.

An eye-witness to the trouble, a 21-year-old woman from London known only as Chelsea, told CMTV that police were “too forceful”.

“Police officers started hitting people with batons. They were beating up girls and then started shooting and everyone scattered.

“It was madness. The police beat up innocent people who weren’t doing anything. I’ve got a friend whose leg is broken.

“There were about 600 of us. We came on holiday to enjoy ourselves and enjoy Portugal and it hasn’t been nice.

“Taxi drivers don’t want to take us home. When we call up no-one wants to pick up our call.

“We’re just here to have fun, we’re not here to cause trouble."

Another reaction that received media attention was that of British expat Becci Richm who slammed the holidaymakers as “animals”.

She took to Twitter to rage: “Thank you for sending these thugs to our lovely town in Albufeira, destroyed bars, rude to businesses, fake money.”

The Resident also received a letter from a reader criticising the "stag parties that are ruining the town". "They are loud, intimidating, and don't care about the mess they leave behind," said Anne Reid.

Meantime, security has been reinforced in Albufeira’s bar district.

Mayor Carlos Silva e Sousa told CM that he had a meeting with the local and regional GNR commands and received a guarantee that the “reinforcement would be immediate”.

The Portugal Invasion trip, which started on June 20 and ended on Tuesday (June 27), is described on its website as a “week jam packed with partying and activities”.

“Come out and experience the sunny coast of Albufeira for one of the biggest summer link ups,” it reads.

Organisers distanced themselves from the trouble with a tweet saying: "Invasion Holidays and the associated companies do not condone the behaviour displayed last night."

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com

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