Poland: Independence Day celebrations turn violent as police clash with nationalists


Nationalist protesters hold Polish flags and carry a banner with the picture of former President Lech Kaczynski as they march the street of Warsaw during Independence Day celebrations on November 11, 2012.


Janek Skarzynski

Polish police clashed with crowds of right-wing extremists during Independence Day celebrations in Warsaw today, said BBC News, marking the second year in a row the national holiday has been marred by violence. 

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Riot police fired rubber bullets and beat protesters with truncheons in the Polish capital, said the Guardian, while the nationalists -- described by the Associated Press as "right-wing hooligans" -- threw conrete and firecrackers at officers.

Police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski told BBC today that two officers were wounded and several people arrested on charges of violently attacking police forces during clashes. 

"Today public life is poisoned by excessive rows," President Bronislaw Komorowski told crowds in the hours leading up to the unrest, said The Guardian. "We should be critical, but criticism should not mean mutual destruction."

BBC's Warsaw correspondent Adam Easton said nationalistic sentiment has been increasingly on display on Poland's national holiday, with extremist groups organazing rallies that in turn anger leftist groups. 

That said, thousands of people peacefully took part in today's Independence Day march led by Komorowski, said AP.

Celebrations last year also saw extremist violence, with some 200 people arrested, according to BBC.  

Today marks 94 years since Poland won sovreignty after being divided between Russia, Prussia and the Austrian Empire.