Photograph: Binsar Bakkara/AP
MEDAN, (Indonesia): Police say a violent brawl between Buddhist and Muslim asylum seekers from Myanmar at an immigration detention centre in Indonesia has left eight people dead and 15 injured.
Eight Buddhists were killed in the clash, and 15 Rohingya were injured. Three other Buddhists escaped unharmed., according to local police chief Endro Kiswanto.
Kiswanto said the melee began after the detainees learned about sectarian violence that hit central Myanmar last month when mobs of armed Buddhists torched Muslim-owned shops.
Mosques and Muslim homes were destroyed during the wave of violence that left 43 dead and forced thousands to flee. Witnesses say the attacks appeared well organised.
Fighting broke out at around 2am Friday at the Belawan Port immigration detention centre in North Sumatra province, where more than 100 Rohingya migrants and 11 illegal fishermen from Myanmar were being held together, said local police spokesman Heru Raden Prakoso.
“We don’t know how many of the dead are Buddhists and how many are Muslims, or how the clash broke out. But our preliminary findings suggest they were beaten to death with wooden objects,” said local police spokesman Heru Raden Prakoso.
Mosques and Muslim homes were destroyed during the wave of violence, which witnesses say appeared well organised.
The Sumatra detention centre holds 280 asylum seekers and illegal fishermen from Myanmar, Prakoso said.
Boats carrying asylum seekers fleeing sectarian violence in Myanmar are increasingly ending up on Indonesian shores. Many of those arriving face long stints in detention awaiting UN assessment for refugee status.
Police are investigating the incident.