Sydney: A disturbance broke out Monday at Australia's Christmas Island detention centre, the immigration department said, amid reports rioters seized control of the facility after the death of an asylum seeker.
The department said it was not aware of injuries on the remote Indian Ocean island, although inmates allegedly set fires and smashed up the centre after security guards fled for their lives.
"The department can confirm a disturbance at Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre," a statement said. "The department and its service providers are working together to resolve the situation."
Officials declined further comment but a detainee told Radio New Zealand (RNZ) rioters had armed themselves with bats and poles to resist any attempt to re-take the facility.
The man said the catalyst was the discovery on Sunday of the body of an Iranian Kurdish asylum seeker, named by Australian media as Fazel Chegeni, after he escaped. It was unclear how Chegeni died.
"We're sick of it. We see it all the time, people trying to hurt themselves, kill themselves," the man, who spoke with a New Zealand accent and did not give his name, told RNZ by telephone.
Detainees have long complained about ill-treatment at the centre, which is part of Canberra's hardline migration policy.