Coast man's riot police horror: "They are coming in now"
A SUNSHINE Coast man held on Christmas Island has described in chilling detail heavily armed riot police storming the detention centre to counter fire-bombing protesters.
The man spoke to the ABC Sunshine Coast live on the air as police, reportedly armed with riot shields, tear gas, rubber bullets and taser guns, stormed the facility on Tuesday morning.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton blamed "a core group of criminals" for the riot as extra police were flown in to help regain control.
The unrest started on Sunday night after the discovery of the body of Iranian Kurdish man Fazal Chegeni who escaped from the centre on Saturday.
Access to the centre has been blocked off by police with Australian Border Force staff onsite and their vehicles, including a fire truck, seen leaving the area, the ABC reported.
The Sunshine Coast detainee said rioters, armed with petrol bombs, chainsaws and machetes, had set numerous fires including overnight.
"The place is destroyed,'' he said.
"Everything has been set on fire.''
He said riot police had smashed glass doors to gain access to the centre and had also shot at the roller doors.
"What they hit the roller doors with sparked, so they must have been bullets,'' the unnamed man said, speaking on a mobile phone to ABC Mornings host Annie Gaffney.
He said he and a small group of detainees were trying to keep out of the riots but they were being caught up in it because police were treating them all the same.
Some of those with him were in their mid 50s while there were others even older, he said.
"There are a couple of 70-year-old blokes here and they are freaking out,'' the man said as fire alarms, commotion and shouting police could be heard in the background.
"The tear gas is coming into the room now.
"I have just got a wet rag around my head.''
The man said there were about 40 to 50 rioters and another 20 who were not involved.
Rioters were armed with everything from chainsaws to Molotov cocktails, he said.
"They are trying to make a point,'' he said of the protesters.
"It's out of control,'' he said in response to Australian media reports quoting government officials saying the riot had been brought under control.
He said police had been shouting at rioters but much of what they had been saying could not be heard because of the alarms which had been going off all night because of the fires.
"They are heavily armed…. They have shields, batons, helmets, vests."
He confirmed a drone had been flying overhead for about three hours, apparently providing police with intelligence on movements within the compound.
As the man hears police moving closer, he says they are bashing detainees and dragging them out of their cells.
"It's not good. We are in deep trouble.
"We are trying to stay out of it but they are coming now.''
He then tells the ABC that riot police are coming up the stairs.
"They are trying to kick the door in now.''
"We are going to get hurt. Everybody is going to get hurt.''
In the background, police can be heard shouting at detainees to get on their hands and knees.
"They are just bashing everybody in this compound,'' the man says.
"They are going in pretty hard by the sounds of it.''
The man joins others in the four by four metre room laying on the ground.
I am freaking out as we speak.
"They are just about to come through the door.
"We are all laying on the ground.
"I can hear heads getting rammed against the wall,'' the man says.
He puts his phone on loud speaker.
"They have got a taser they are saying.''
"Get on the ground. Get on the ground,'' police can be heard shouting in the background.
"They are dragging them. They are dragging people out,'' the man says about what he can hear in a neighbouring room.
"They are dragging them with their hands behind their backs.''
"It's not good. I'm probably not going to be able to say much,'' the man says before the line cuts out.
The man's sister and the ABC have been trying to contact him following the drama but have so far been unable to.
APN understands the man was in a detention centre after he appealed a decision to send him back to the UK.
He has apparently lived in Australia for almost 50 years after coming out here as a child.