Poland-Belarus border: Violence erupts as Polish soldiers fire water cannons at migrants

The Polish and Belarusian authorities have blamed each other for border tension, where thousands have traveled in hopes of entering the EU only to find themselves trapped in freezing conditions.

There were scenes of chaos on the Bruzgi-Kuźnica border, where crowds of migrants could be seen breaking concrete blocks and gathering tree branches to be thrown towards Poland.

Loud explosions resounded through the crowd and a thick cloud of smoke hung overhead. Belarusian state media BeITA reported that the water cannon used by Polish forces spewed a flammable yellow liquid, causing people to suffocate and feel sick from the smoke. A CNN team was hit by water bullets fired by Polish guards.

According to Polish police, one policeman was seriously injured after being hit by a bullet.

The women and children, who only a day earlier, had been camped in tents near the border fence had returned, and the men, many of whom expressed anger at being left in such a bad state, are engaged in the most dramatic clash with date. “We are fighting to survive,” one man told CNN.

The Polish Border Force said on Tuesday that migrants camped near the Bruzgi-Kuźnica checkpoint engaged in “aggressive” acts, throwing stones and various objects at Polish authorities. . The security service said on Twitter: “To prevent illegal border crossings, water cannons were used against aggressive foreigners.

The Polish Ministry of Defense shared footage on Twitter showing Polish officers and soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder with riot shields as rocks were fenced over the border fence with barbed wire, describing the scene. as a “migrant attack.” Ministry also accused Belarusian services equip migrants with “stun grenades”.

A spokesman for Poland’s security services, Stanisław Żaryn, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday about the clashes, describing the migrants as “bending into the border.”

Polish officers use water cannons on migrants gathered at the Bruzgi-Kuznica checkpoint.

BelTA reported a “worsening situation” at the border on Tuesday, as migrants tried “by all means to reach Poland” and Polish authorities responded with tear gas and grenades stuns and water cannons, “to pour water on people because of the cold.”

“People say they are tired of waiting and ready to break out,” according to BeITA.

It is not clear what sparked Tuesday’s confrontations, but a growing number of migrants are frustrated that Europe is not welcoming to them.

In the last 48 hours there have also been rumors about camps inhabited by migrants that Poland is preparing to open humanitarian corridors – a claim Poland says is untrue.

The crisis has made the EU to prepare new sanctions about Belarus, which it accuses of causing the crisis on the bloc’s eastern border.

The government of President Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly denied such claims, instead blaming the West for the border crossings and accusing it of mistreatment of migrants.

Matthew Chance and Antonia Mortensen reported near the Polish-Belarusian border, and Katharina Krebs reported from Moscow. Eliza Mackintosh writes from London.


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