A drunk migrant who tried to force his way into a reception centre in Malta provoked a riot that led to the building being set alight and one police officer injured, a minister said on Monday.
The Nigerian man was stopped by security at the outside gate, but his friends intervened and the situation spiraled out of control, Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia said in an interview.
The violence started at camp near Hal Far at about 10:30 pm (2030 GMT) on Sunday and continued through the night, local media reported.
Some 1,200 people reside at the site.
A police spokesman said cars were torched, part of the building was set on fire, and an officer was slightly injured.
Witnesses said they saw migrants hurl objects at police.
Around 30 migrants were seen being arrested on Monday morning, local media reported.
Some onlookers who witnessed the arrest of the allegedly drunk migrant told local media the police were too heavy handed in their approach, perhaps inciting the ensuing riot.
“When protests go over the limit, we need the full force of the law to clamp down on the perpetrators, we will not tolerate incitement,’’ Farrugia told One News Malta.
Maria Pisani, Director of human rights organisation Integra, told dpa.
“The situation is boiling. We’ve expressed concerns about the conditions at the centre. This was avoidable. But Malta also needs help to deal with the issue.’’
EU-member Malta is feeling the strain of around 3,000 migrants who arrived from North Africa this year, with humanitarian organisations lamenting the small Mediterranean island’s poor reception facilities.