Police shot rubber bullets at Polish nationalists marching through Warsaw in celebration of the country’s Independence Day yesterday.
The violence came as police attempted to enforce a ban on public gatherings as part of nationwide Covid-19 restrictions, despite allowing pro-abortion demonstrators to gather throughout the country over the last three weeks.
Thousands of Poles flooded the streets of Warsaw for the national holiday celebrating the date Jozef Pilsudski took control of Polish troops in the capital and declared the country’s independence in 1918, at the same time an armistice between Germany and France had been agreed.
Many of the demonstrators waved Polish flags and chanted “God, honour and homeland!” throughout the march, with this year’s theme being “Our Civilization, Our Rules”.
Videos recorded by police near Warsaw’s National Stadium showed flares and stones being thrown as violence broke out among the crowd.
“Several officers were injured” after being attacked by “hooligans”, the police said.
“Officers had to act decisively in order to clear a passage for ambulances and vehicles carrying respirators that were being blocked by hooligans,” they said.
Elsewhere Polish president Andrzej Duda and other leaders attended a Mass in the city followed by a changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in memory of all those who have died for Poland.
The celebrations follow an intense week of demonstrations in cities throughout Poland following a court ruling that abortions of unborn babies with disabilities were unconstitutional.
The Polish government has postponed implementing the court’s ruling following the demonstrations.
Police were largely bystanders at the abortion protests, with reports suggesting the significant numbers of women were not curtailed in their gatherings because of the nationwide focus on the issue.
Some arrests were reported however when protestors moved too close to government buildings and the homes of politicians.