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Rioters set fire to Australian detention center

SYDNEY — Asylum seekers and other detainees at an Australian immigration center set fire to several buildings, climbed onto rooftops and hurled tiles at officials who were scrambling on Thursday to bring the chaotic protest to an end.

Rick Rycroft / AP

Fellow detainees grab onto a man, second left, and remove a wire he had around his neck that is tied to a vent, after he threatened to jump from a rooftop at the Villawood Detention Center in Sydney, Australia on April 21.

Brami Jegan / EPA

Burning buildings at the Villawood Detention Centre, set alight during a protest by up to 100 immigration detainees in the early hours of the morning. The riot began on 20 April, when asylum seekers took to a building's roof reportedly in protest to the department denying their visa applications.

Tim Wimborne / Reuters

Detainees hold a protest sign atop a building at Villawood detention centre on April 21. Angry asylum-seekers torched an immigration detention centre in Sydney on Thursday, burning part of it to the ground after Australian authorities denied some of their requests for refuge, local media reported.

Up to 100 people being held at Sydney's Villawood Detention Center were involved in the riots, which began Wednesday night when two detainees climbed onto a roof, immigration officials said.

Protesters set an oxygen cylinder alight, which led to an explosion, and nine buildings — including a medical center and dining hall — were gutted by fire. Firefighters brought the blaze under control early Thursday and no one was injured. Continue reading.