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Poland fires tear gas, utilize water cannon as migrants try to breach border fence

Polish officers at the Poland-Belarus border used water cannons and tear gas in retaliation to migrants throwing rocks across the border.

Thousands of migrants from the Middle East have gathered at the border between Poland and Belarus, awaiting entry into Poland and the European Union. Belarus, not an EU member, is being accused of trying to sow seeds of trouble in the EU by pushing the migrants to the border. Belarusian authorities have denied this claim.

After some migrants began throwing rocks across the border, Polish authorities spoke over a loudspeaker and said, “Attention, attention, if you don’t follow orders, force will be used against you.” Videos shared by Poland show migrants throwing wooden logs and bottles at Polish officers and trying to use sticks to break through the border.

When the Polish order was not followed, officers began shooting water and tear gas across the border towards migrants. Belarus reports that it  provided medical treatment to 20 migrants in recent days and Poland reported that nine officers were injured.

This month, there have been 5,000 migrant attempts to cross the border, a number much higher than last year’s 88. Belarus reports that there are 4,000 migrants camped out at the border, many of whom are children. There have been at least 11 deaths among migrants as temperatures have been quickly decreasing.

In the recent Belarus election, Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, has been accused by the EU and US of rigging the election in his favor, which he has denied. The EU has already imposed sanctions on Belarus and may increase them due to this crisis.

Lukashenko recently spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, where they disagreed on how the migrants got to the border but agreed that escalation was not a good idea. He also spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom he is allies. NATO has criticized Belarus, accusing it of putting migrants’ lives at risk.

ARTICLE: RITA VOGT

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: CNN

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