Polish leaders seek clarity over the detention of troops who fired warning shots under pressure from migrants


WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish President Andrzej Duda called it shocking and the defense minister demanded an explanation Thursday after it emerged that three soldiers were handcuffed and detained by Polish military police in March for firing warning shots when confronted by a advancing group of soldiers. migrants at the border with Belarus.

The situation at the European Union’s eastern border is becoming increasingly tense under pressure from thousands of people from the Middle East, Asia and Africa who are trying to force through the metal barrier that Poland erected in 2022 to seal the border, which is guarded by Polish army troops and border guards. Recently, some officers required hospital treatment due to knife and other wounds inflicted from behind the barrier.

In March, military police arrested three soldiers after they allegedly fired warning shots into the air and then into the ground as they tried to stop an advancing migrant group on Polish territory. No one was injured. Polish media report growing dissatisfaction among the military over the way their colleagues were treated.

Government officials say the detention was an excessive measure under the circumstances.

“This is a shocking case, considering that recently our soldiers have been repeatedly attacked by aggressors from the Belarusian side,” Duda said.

Defense Minister Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz said the military police overreacted and demanded clarifications from them and from prosecutors investigating. One of the arrested soldiers has been acquitted of the charges.

“The soldiers at the border are carrying out a mission for the Polish state,” Kosiniak-Kamysz told a news conference on Thursday.

“We always stand on the side of the soldiers … of those who carry out their duties at the border,” he said, adding that soldiers, responsible for protecting the border since 2022, have used weapons some 700 times have used in emergency situations. .

Poland and the EU say migrant groups are being organized and helped by Russia and its ally Belarus to destabilize Europe. Their pressure has increased this spring, in the run-up to the key European Parliament elections.

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