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Poland

Polish police repell ultranationalists

Warsaw has seen police fire rubber bullets and tear gas at right-wingers as Poland marked its independence day. Several policemen were injured.

Polish authorities say two police officers were injured Sunday and several extremists detained for throwing stones and metal objects. The right-wingers disturbed one of the many marches which took place in Warsaw to mark 94 years since Poland regained sovereignty at the close of WWI after over 120 years of foreign rule.

"Today public life is poisoned by excessive rows," Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski had said at the beginning of the day. "We should be critical, but criticism should not mean mutual destruction."

Thousands walked peacefully in a march led by Komorowski.

As demonstrators gathered for the right-wing rally, however, young men with their faces covered by scarves chanted nationalist and anti-Jewish slogans. Police used truncheons to break up a crowd of extremists pelting them with firecrackers and concrete.

Thousands of police were deployed to hold the right-wing extremists back.

It was the second year that the celebrations have degenerated into violence, underlining the deep gulf between those who want a conservative, religious society that rejects foreign influence and those who want Poland to join the European mainstream under Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

mkg/ipj (AFP, AP)