Australia Vietnam New Boat People
Australia Vietnam New Boat People

Detainees at a remote Australian-run holding center for asylum seekers have ended a violent two-day demonstration that was sparked by the death of an Iranian-born asylum seeker.

Australian authorities dispatched reinforcements to the Christmas Island detention center, located in the Indian Ocean south of the Indonesian island of Java, after protesters set several fires, forcing the guards and other staffers to abandon the facility.

The Immigration Department said police regained control of the center after negotiating with the inmates, but added it had to use "some force" with a group of detainees who had barricaded themselves and threatened to use weapons.

Five detainees were being treated for injuries or medical conditions, though none were life-threatening.

The unrest began after the body of the Iranian detainee was discovered at the foot of the island's cliffs Saturday, one day after he escaped from the facility. 

About 203 men are being held at the Christmas Island facility, many of them intercepted on rickety boats while fleeing from war-torn nations in the Middle East and Asia in hopes of reaching and being granted asylum in Australia.  Others are native New Zealanders with criminal records awaiting deportation after their visas to remain in Australia were revoked.

Australian opposition politicians are calling for a review of the conditions at the detention center.

Canberra has taken a hardline position on asylum seekers, sending many of them either to Christmas Island or detention centers on the isolated Pacific islands of Nauru and Papua New Guinea.