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Russians, Poles clash before soccer match

- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 12, 2012

WARSAW, POLAND (AP) - Violent street clashes between Russia and Poland soccer hooligans left at least 15 injured before police fired rubber bullets at a group of fans who attacked them in a separate incident at an open air fan zone while watching the emotionally charged match between the bitter rivals.

Police said more than 100 people were detained and the injured, which included a police officer, weren't 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.

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