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More than 300 arrested after far-right clashes in Warsaw - police

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WARSAW (Reuters) - Police detained more than 300 people after clashes with far-right supporters marching through Warsaw in defiance of pandemic restrictions, the force said on Thursday.

Officers in riot gear used pepper spray to break up scuffles during Wednesday’s Independence Day march - a regular point of friction between far-right groups and supporters of the nationalist government on one side, and their liberal opponents on the other.

People in the crowd threw bricks and flares at officers, police spokesman Sylwester Marczak said. Violence flared in the city centre and towards the end of the march near the National Stadium, recently converted into a COVID-19 field hospital.

Organisers had said people would drive through the capital’s main roads this year, to get round a ban from city hall imposed to try and contain the pandemic. But thousands of people marched on foot through central Warsaw in addition to those driving.

“There were a number of flares, dangerous objects thrown towards the policemen and posing a threat to the policemen. There were 35 policemen hurt,” Marczak said.

Most of the detained people had already been released, he added.

Reporting by Marcin Goclowski and Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Andrew Heavens