Riot at Sydney, Australia's Villawood Detention Centre continues

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

A riot at Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre continued Thursday with six protesters remaining on the roof after the centre was set alight Wednesday night in a protest involving up to 100 detainees. Nobody has been injured in the protest.

Nine demountable buildings were destroyed in the blaze, described as an "act of desperation" from asylum-seekers held at the centre for up to two years. Firefighters were pelted with roof tiles and other debris as they struggled to contain the fire.

The protest began early Wednesday, sparked by two men climbing onto the roof of the building. The remaining detainees are sitting on the roof with a large sign that reads "We need help." According to one protestor, further violence is unlikely to occur, but they will continue to stay on the roof.

Riot police were seen entering the building at approximately 9.30 a.m. AEST.

Villawood has been the site of much recent controversy, with a similar protest taking place in September last year following the death of a Fijian detainee, and a second death in November that led to a hunger strike at the centre.