WARSAW, Poland (NWN) – Polish border forces said on Wednesday that they were attacked with stones by migrants on the Belarusian border and retaliated by using water cannons against them.
border guard agency video on twitter A water cannon aimed across the border at a group of migrants at a makeshift camp in freezing temperatures.
Polish police said one officer was seriously injured. He was taken to hospital by ambulance and it is possible that his skull was broken after being hit by an object.
The situation marks an escalation in tense migration and political border crisis where the lives of thousands of migrants are at stake.
Poland’s defense ministry said its troops and other border forces were attacked with stones and other objects.
The ministry also said that Belarusian forces tried to destroy the fence along the countries’ common border, while the Interior Ministry posted video Apparently migrants are shown trying to break a fence.
There was no way to independently verify what was happening because journalists and human rights activists are being kept out of the border region in a state of emergency in Poland. Journalists in Belarus also face severe restrictions on their ability to report, with only a few present at the border.
At one point on Tuesday a Polish independent broadcaster, TVN24, was forced to rely on CNN to show a picture of the border not filtered through by government officials.
Poland’s parliament is expected to take up a legislative resolution on Tuesday that would regulate the ability of citizens to move across the border area with Belarus after the state of emergency ends at the end of this month.
A state of emergency was imposed in early September as a large number of migrants from the Middle East sought to move from Belarus to Poland.
The border is also part of the EU’s eastern border, and the EU has accused the authoritarian regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of fueling a migration crisis to pressure the bloc.
The European Union is pressing airlines to stop transporting Syrians, Iraqis and others to Belarus.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi government is appealing to its citizens stranded on the border to return home.
An embassy spokesman told the Interfax agency on Tuesday that some 200 Iraqi nationals who arrived in Belarus with the intention of entering the European Union arrived at the Iraqi embassy in Russia and expressed their desire to return to their homeland.
The spokesman said there would be an evacuation flight on Thursday and all those wishing to return to Iraq are already waiting for a flight to the Belarusian capital, Minsk. The diplomat told Interfax, there were no problems transporting migrants from the border to Minsk, and the Belarusian authorities have provided all necessary assistance.
Litvinova reported from Moscow.