Clashes erupt at Cyprus migrant center, fires lit

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Clashes broke out and fires were lit at an overcrowded reception center for migrants in Cyprus on Friday, police and witnesses said.

Thick plumes of smoke rose over the Pournaras reception facility, some 22 km (14 miles) west of the capital Nicosia.


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Witnesses told Reuters people from the camp had fled, running along a major road with their belongings. Police said individuals left the camp, which is not a closed facility, when the fires broke out.

Police said clashes appeared to have broken out between two groups in the center. The fires were extinguished by the fire brigade, but sporadic clashes continued until early afternoon, police said.

“A number of tents were burnt...the situation has now calmed down,” a police spokesman said.

Pournaras has been housing well over its 1,000-person capacity as Cyprus struggles to cope with an influx of asylum seekers from Syria and from African countries.

Many travel to the southern part of the island, controlled by the internationally recognized government of ethnically split Cyprus, through a buffer zone that separates it from the Turkish Cypriot-controlled area.

Authorities in Nicosia last week said this year alone, 17,000 people had entered their jurisdiction through irregular channels. There were 12,285 in the whole of 2021.

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