Violent clashes have marred Independence Day in the Polish capital with at least 29 people taken to hospital and more than 200 detained by Friday night, nearly half of them Germans. Three police officers are reported to be seriously injured.
As the police tried to keep swelling nationalist and anti-fascist marches apart, the celebrations started to grow violent.
Hundreds of youngsters, many of them dressed in black with faces covered with scarves, lobbed bottles and cobblestones at police officers. Several cars were set on fire.
According to PAP news agency, nationalist flags flew over the attacking crowd, as well as the national colors of Slovakia, Croatia and Serbia.
The police had to use water cannon and pepper spray to bring the situation under control, and more than 200 were arrested.
Of those detained, almost half – 92 – were Germans. A Spaniard, a Hungarian and a Dane were also arrested, AP reported, quoting Polish police spokesman Maciej Karczynski. He said 40 police officers were injured and 14 police cars destroyed. Three officers were also taken to hospital with serious injuries, according to police.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk has assured that those arrested for attacking police will be severely punished, according to spokesman Pawel Gras, quoted by AP. Tusk also held a special meeting with key security officials following what is reckoned to be the worst street violence in Poland for years.
People were seen in the streets with blood on their faces leading to fears that the total injured might be high.
The November 11 celebrations marked the date in 1918 when Poland regained its independence after being divided between Russia, Prussia and the Austrian Empire for over a century.
Independence Day, with its strong riot police presence, was seen as a test of the country’s security guarantees ahead of the Euro 2012 football championship, which Poland will co-host with Ukraine next summer.