WARSAW – Poland said on Friday a Belarusian soldier tried to fire flares at Polish border troops and others tried to tear down fencing along the frontier amid rising tension over a wave of migrants trying to reach European Union territory from Belarus.
Warsaw and the EU accuse Belarus of spurring illegal migrants to enter Poland and other EU states via Belarusian territory to put pressure on the bloc over sanctions it imposed on Minsk over human rights abuses. Belarus has repeatedly denied this.
“Further provocations at the border. Yesterday, a Belarusian soldier tried to fire a flare gun towards Polish soldiers. Fortunately, the gun did not fire,” the Polish defence ministry wrote on Twitter.
“100 metres away, five armed Belarusians tried to destroy (our border) fence, shouting at the same time that they would shoot Polish soldiers.”
Poland has erected a barbed-wire fence along the border, where a state of emergency is in effect, to keep out arriving migrants and plans to build a 5.5-metre (18-foot)-high wall along a 180-km (110-mile) stretch of the boundary.
Anton Bychkovsky, spokesperson for the Belarusian State Border Guard Committee, told the Sputnik Belarus news agency that the Polish side was inventing facts.
“The adjoining side continues to escalate the situation around the situation on the border. Representatives of the Polish Ministry of Defence are in fact provocateurs themselves,” Sputnik quoted him as saying.
The Belarusian foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.