Cyprus police arrest 21 people after violent anti-immigrant clashes

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Cyprus police arrested 21 people late Monday after violent clashes involving immigrants and residents of a community in the west of the island which has a large population of asylum-seekers.

Police said those arrested after a second night of disturbances in the village of Chlorakas, some 155 km (96 miles) west of the capital Nicosia, included migrants and locals.

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Monday night’s incidents followed a peaceful sit-down protest by migrants against violence late on Sunday, where people wearing hoods damaged a property and vehicles belonging to non-Cypriots.

Tension boiled over after the protest broke up, with groups of migrants and Greek Cypriots kept apart by police using teargas and water cannon. One police officer was lightly hurt by a petrol bomb.

Cyprus had seen a spike in the arrival of irregular migrants and people seeking asylum in recent years, though the rate of increase has tapered off this year. About 20 percent of the migrant community in Chlorakas comes from Syria.

Tensions have been running high in Chlorakas for several years over what some locals believe is a disproportionately high number of asylum seekers or recognized refugees settled there.

The island’s interior ministry declared the community off-limits to new arrivals in 2021, and last week authorities said they would vacate a property complex where hundreds of migrants lived without electricity and running water.

Sunday’s disturbances were preceded by a demonstration of around 300 people who marched through a central street in Chlorakas, calling for an end to irregular migration. A number of participants then broke off from the main body of demonstrators and damaged property, police said.

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