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Immigrants riot in Lampedusa detention centre

Video by Alexis MASCIARELLI

Latest update : 2009-02-18

lllegal immigrants held in a detention centre on the island of Lampedusa, off southern Italy, tried to break free on Wednesday, police said. Several were reported injured after clashes with security forces.

AFP - Illegal immigrants on Wednesday tried to break out of a holding centre on the Italian island of Lampedusa, sparking a clash with security forces that caused several injuries, police said.

"There was a revolt by immigrants. There are currently 860 in the centre," police official Girolamo Fazio told Sky TG24 television.

"Some of them sought to escape by breaking through a gate, but they were pushed back by security forces.

"A fire broke out in one of the buildings housing the illegal immigrants, largely destroying it."

The number of injured was unclear, though "it is certain that there are several lightly injured," said Fazio.

ANSA news agency reported three immigrants hurt as well as a firefighter who suffered from smoke inhalation.

The fire was being brought under control and the clashes had ended, ANSA said.

The islands off southern Italy, especially Lampedusa, have seen a flood of illegal immigrants mainly from northern Africa reach their shores in a bid to enter Europe.

Some 31,700 immigrants landed on Lampedusa in 2008, a 75 percent increase from the previous year, according to official figures.

Date created : 2009-02-18

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