Asylum seekers injured in incident at PNG centre: Australia

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 17, 2014 5:19 PM

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A group of people seeking asylum in Australia rioted and breached fences at a Papua New Guinea processing centre, the second serious incident in two days, Australia's immigration minister said on Tuesday.

An unspecified number of detainees were injured, some seriously, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.

"The extent and nature of the subsequent events and perimeter breaches is still being verified," he said.

Manus Island in impoverished Papua New Guinea hosts a detention center for would-be refugees sent there after trying to get to Australia, often in unsafe boats after paying people smugglers in Indonesia.

The incident followed an attempted breakout on Sunday night, when 35 asylum seekers briefly escaped, 19 were injured and eight arrested.

Morrison said security guards were in control of the center, which had not been damaged, and island police had caught detainees who had escaped during the incident.

There were no immediate details on the exact number of asylum seekers involved or the injuries and a spokesman for Morrison was not available for comment.

Canberra's tough stance on asylum seekers, including offshore processing and a blanket ban on people arriving by boat ever settling in Australia, has been criticized by the United Nations and other groups as illegal and inhumane.

(Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang;Editing by Tom Heneghan)