NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Fighting broke out Friday between two groups at a migrant camp in Cyprus, a melee that left two people injured, set 20 tents ablaze and forced scores of families to flee the facility, officials said.
Riot police had to use tear gas to restore order in the Pournara migrant reception center but no arrests were made, according to a police spokesman who spoke on customary condition of anonymity.
The fighting began just before noon Friday between groups of migrants from Congo and Nigeria following a dispute over a mobile phone charging cable, said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.
The groups hurled rocks and armed themselves with sticks and metal rods. Many fled the scene as police arrived. The two individuals who were hurt were taken to the hospital for treatment.
The official said the families have returned to the camp after calm was restored.
Tensions have occasionally boiled over into violence at the overcrowded Pournara camp, which now holds 2,150 migrants but was built for a maximum capacity of 1,000.
Cyprus’ police chief Stylianos Papatheodorou attributed the violence to the camp’s overcrowded conditions and said police have stepped up measures to guard against such incidents.
Cyprus has been seeing a large number of migrant arrivals.
Cypriot Interior Ministry figures show that of the 27,000 migrants who reached ethnically split Cyprus in the last two years, 6% arrived by boat while 94% crossed a U.N.-controlled buffer zone from the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north.
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The Associated Press