21 Apr 2011

Australian PM condemns detention centre violence

7:15 pm on 21 April 2011

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has condemned riots at Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre, warning detainees that violence will not help their visa claims.

Protesters at an immigration detention centre in Sydney have set several buildings on fire as a rooftop protest continued for a second day.

The Immigration Department says about a quarter of the centre's 400 detainees were involved in the riot which broke on Wednesday, the ABC reports.

Riot police had to be called in to quell the protest after the centre's unarmed guards were forced to retreat in the face of the attacks.

Rioters are alleged to have used fire extinguishers to attack security guards and pelted firefighters with roof tiles and timber.

Detainees want talks with immigration

The Refugee Action Coalition says as many as 13 detainees had been involved in the rooftop protesters - three Kurds, two Iranians and eight Afghans.

Twenty Sri Lankan Tamils are also reported to be barricaded in an adjacent building.

They are demanding to speak with an immigration official about the time it is taking to process their applications.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the rioters had already had their refugee claims rejected.

The federal government has announced an investigation into the riots which come just weeks after similarly violent protests at Christmas Island detention centre.