HULU TERENGGANU: The three-hour riot at the Immigration detention camp in Ajil on Saturday night was sparked by a fight between two groups of Vietnamese inmates, Immigration officials said yesterday. Police, however, have a different story.
State police chief Datuk Shukri Dahlan said almost 200 immigrants from Vietnam and Myanmar turned aggressive after what they claimed was mistreatment at the camp.
The Immigration Department said the incident began at 9.30pm when a group of Vietnamese immigrants started fighting with a new batch of compatriots.
State director Mahasan Mustafa said the situation worsened when both groups vented their frustrations on camp officials and damaged three doors at their block.
Eight of them were slightly injured in the incident.
When a group of Myanmar immigrants joined the fight, all the immigrants tried to escape but could not get over the barbed-wire fencing.
It was learnt that they then started burning papers, which resulted in a bonfire that nearly razed the building.
By this time, firemen had arrived but because of the delicate situation, took some time to put out the fire.
Police and Rela members defused the situation by first keeping the rioters at bay.
A stand-off ensued and after negotiations, the immigrants gave themselves up shortly after midnight. They were now being detained at a different cell block.
"This is a first at this camp," Mat Hassan said, referring to the incident, adding that security would be tightened to prevent similar incidents.
Shukri said the immigrants claimed they had been badly treated.
He did not provide any further details.
Those involved in the rioting will be deported as soon as possible.
"We have referred the case to the Vietnamese embassy and the authorities are expediting their deportation papers."