Riot at Sardinia immigration holding centre results in temporary airport closure

ROME — An airport in Sardinia was closed for three hours Monday after illegal migrants being detained there staged a riot and some managed to flee onto the airstrip, police said.

The escapees were quickly apprehended, the Elmas airport resumed operations normally and the situation returned to calm, said Giuseppe Giardina, head of the Cagliari police commissioner’s staff.

One of the would-be escapees broke his leg jumping down from a fence, he said.

There have been a handful of riots at the Elmas holding centre in recent weeks, with detainees burning mattresses and breaking closed-circuit televisions, news reports said. The detainees are mostly Algerian migrants who arrived in Sardinia by boat and are awaiting asylum procedures.

In all, about 50 migrants took part in Monday’s riot, Giardina said. Of them, 14 managed to escape from the holding centre through a hole in the fence. Of them, four managed to reach the airstrip before being arrested, he said.

The migrants were being held in a barracks on the military side of the Elmas airport; the civilian side of the airport was closed during the fracas but reopened about three hours later, Giardina said.

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