180 arrested as riots mar Euro 2012

Clashes in Poland leave 24 injured

Violent clashes between Russia and Poland soccer hooligans left at least 24 injured before a soccer match between the bitter rivals.

Police later fired rubber bullets at a group of fans who attacked them in a separate incident near an outdoor fan zone while watching the emotionally charged match between the bitter rivals. The game ended in a 1-1 draw and the day was considered a huge security challenge, with police bracing for possibly more trouble after the match.

More than 180 people were detained throughout the day, police said. None of the injured, which included a police officer, were in a life-threatening condition.

About 5,000 Russia fans marched to the match at the National Stadium in Warsaw to celebrate the Russia Day national holiday. It was seen as provocative to many Poles. The two countries share a difficult history, including decades of control by Moscow over Poland during the Cold War. Many Poles felt the Polish authorities should not have allowed the Russians to march as a group in Warsaw given the historical wounds.

The most violent incident occurred during the march. Polish hooligans attacked Russians, who responded violently. The two sides, made up of dozens of men, kicked and beat each other in the face, while flares could be seen exploding in their midst.

Associated Press journalists saw several people lying injured and bleeding on the ground, with one of them appearing to be seriously hurt. Poland and Russia fans were also seen fighting and throwing stones outside the stadium.

During the match, new fighting apparently unrelated to nationalist tensions broke out among Polish fans near a fan zone in the center of the city. Polish police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at a group of young Poles who attacked them with bottles near a fan zone where about 100,000 people were watching the game on huge screens.

Some of the men wore Polish team T-shirts and once said he was attacking police simply because he didn't like them.

Russia fans clashed with police on a bridge near the National Stadium and police were later seen making arrests. The news agency PAP reported that police used water cannons and tear gas to quell the disturbances.

In another incident, a group of clearly drunken Polish men began fighting among themselves, hitting and kicking each other. Two were on the ground bleeding and police intervened, throwing two more to the ground. The men were holding cans of beer and mumbling and one appeared to be unconscious.

An AP reporter witnessed the incident and saw police detain three people.


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