Hooded men attack police near Ronda Waszyngtona during nationalist march, Tuesday: photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański
Men wearing balaclavas and hoods were seen throwing stones at police as the march crossed Poniatowski Bridge in the centre of the capital, late afternoon, following peaceful celebrations, led by President Komorowski earlier in the day.
“A large group of hooligans isolated from the front of the march attacked police near Washington roundabout,” spokesman for Warsaw Police HQ Mariusz Sokolowski told journalists and confirmed that over 50 police suffered injuries during the disturbance.
Police say they detained over up to 276 people after an Independence Day demonstration once again turned violent.
March organisers blamed outsiders for the violence, after what police called “tens of thousands” from far-right parties and groups wearing scarves of various football clubs turned up for the demonstration, which began at around 3 pm.
Violence on Poniatowski Bridge during the March of Independence: photo - PAP / Pawel Supernak
“As every year, people caused trouble at the front of the march,” the National Movement's Krzysztof Bosak told Polish Radio's IAR news agency, adding that the hooded men were not part of the demonstration.
Last year's nationalist march on 11 November, Independence Day, saw a security cabin outside the Russian Embassy attacked and a 'Rainbow' tolerance monument set alight, with police making several arrests.
City authorities and march organisers changed the route this year, which began at Dmowski roundabout – named after Roman Dmowski, a nationalist leader between the wars in Poland - and was set to end on the east bank of the Vistula River.
Earlier President Bronislaw Komorowski led a 'Together for Independence” march in Warsaw, as part of official celebrations of Poland gaining its independence from Russian, Prussian and Austrian empires in 1918.
“We do not exclude anyone, all are welcome. We do not want to march and celebrate against others,” President Komorowski said.
“We want to prove that you can celebrate and enjoy freedom and independence without hate,” he said, as reports that the nationalist march had become violent.
Independence Day events included a fun run, concerts and open days at ministries and public museums. (pg)
Updated with arrest and injury figures at 20.48 CET.