Police beat Tunisian migrants as ‘refugee island’ is hit by clashes
The Italian island of Lampedusa, where 50,000 migrants have landed this year following political upheaval in north Africa, descended into chaos yesterday with hundreds of immigrants clashing violently with police and residents.
Tensions first erupted on Tuesday night when Tunisian detainees torched the holding centre on the tiny Mediterranean outcrop in protest at plans to repatriate them. Serious clashes broke out yesterday when about 50 residents pelted a large group of Tunisians with stones after the migrants had threatened to explode gas canisters by a petrol station at the port.
Some 1,200 migrants were relocated to a sports field where further clashes took place. Riot police with shields and batons herded them into the corner of a raised terrace and beat them, forcing many to drop 12ft into a courtyard to escape the blows, according to reports on Italian television.
Angry residents of Lampedusa surrounded the town hall, calling on the mayor, Bernardino De Rubeis, to take a stronger line against the refugees. The local population of 5,000 has often been outnumbered by migrants. (via The Independent)