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Fires lit in Darwin detention centre -

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Detainees have set fire to Darwin's main immigration detention centre as part of a protest against
not being allowed to attend a mosque to celebrate a Muslim festival.


TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Detainees have set fire to Darwin's main Immigration Detention Centre as
part of a religious protest.

Two fires were lit inside the centre this morning and it appears they were started because
detainees weren't allowed to go to the mosque.

From Darwin, Iskhandar Razak reports.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK, REPORTER: By mid-morning the fires were at their peak, sending black smoke
billowing into the sky. Firefighters used water cannons on the blaze, but it appeared to do little
early on and the smoke got thicker.

Indonesian detainees allegedly lit the fires because they weren't able to go to the mosque to
celebrate the end of the Muslim holy month Ramadan. An asylum seeker advocate in the centre at the
time says staff went into lockdown and police came inside.

PAUL WEBB, CATHOLIC PRIEST: They were all in battle gear, what I call battle gear and helmets and
guns and things, getting themselves all ready and I thought, "Heavens, revolution has broken out."

ISKHANDAR RAZAK: Territory police also manned the fence line and the media were warned several
times to stay back.

And after several hours of pounding the area with water cannons, firefighters appear to have won
the fight. The fire appears to be out, the sky's now a clear blue. But that doesn't mean the
drama's over, because it appears security is up. Police officers are still on the fence line and
they don't appear to be moving any time soon.

When the smoke cleared, the damage was apparent from the air. At least four buildings were damaged
by the fires and two have collapsed.

The Territory's Muslim community says it's saddened Islam's holy day has been tainted by violence.

FAROOQ HAQ, NT ISLAMIC COUNCIL: Islam says no violence in any case, in any situation. No-one can
deter you or frustrate you enough to do something violent. So that is no justification.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK: The Immigration Department says no-one has been injured, but more than 50
detainees have been moved from the centre to Darwin's police watch house.

Iskhandar Razak, Lateline.