“They are attacking again.” This is how Benham Satah, who witnessed the murder of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati three years ago, described the eruption of violence at the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea on Friday night.
Several detainees reported sustained gunfire from outside Australia’s offshore immigration detention centre after violence erupted when a local tried to shut down a football game involving detainees in the Navy base that surrounds the compound.
They said Wilson Security guards who were attempting the protect asylum seekers came under sustained assault from outsiders intent on attacking the refugees.
“Navy guys and locals I think trying to get inside the camp after beating Australian guards,” Rohingyan refugee Imran Mohammad reported.
“Our camp is under attack. The Navy officers are firing. I am hiding in my room,” he said.
He later said: “We are left by ourselves. There is no security inside the compounds.”
Australian Border Force has been asked for comment.
Several detainees said they feared of the violence of February 2014, when scores of asylum seekers were injured and Barati was killed when local security guards and residents attacked the centre after days of protests by detainees.
“The refugees were playing soccer in the field and around six o’clock the locals said to the refugees to leave the field,” one detainee reported.
“They were leaving the field and suddenly the navy officers and the locals started beating the refugees.”
A separate account said the officer who initiated the confrontation was drunk and was hurt in the initial fracas, prompting the officer and others to seek revenge.
“The refugees came back inside the camp now, but the Navy officers are throwing stones and now they are firing. We are really scared now. It’s like another riot taking place here today.”
One detainee said locals and Navy officers had filled vehicles with stones and were driving around the four compounds throwing them.
xSatah said he heard gunfire over a 10-minute period. There were no casualties in the Mike and Foxtrot compounds and they were waiting to establish this was the case in the Oscar and Delta compounds, which were closer to the gunfire, he said.