The West

UPDATE: Three more people will be taken by medivac to Port Moresby for treatment after riots in which one man was killed and 77 asylum seekers were injured at a detention centre on Manus Island.

The man who died suffered head injuries overnight outside the detention centre where security is the domain of PNG police.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said there was no suggestion PNG police shot at the asylum seekers, although he understood they fired shots on two occasions, at 11.20pm (PNG time) on Monday and 1am on Tuesday before order was restored.

“At this stage there were two occasions where our authorities reported back to us that shots were heard or reported to be fired by PNG police,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

“But that in no way suggests in any way that those shots were fired at any individuals.”

Mr Morrison said a man with a skull fracture had been transferred to an Australian hospital for treatment.

“I am not about to disclose his location because I don’t think that’s going to assist with his treatment,” he said.

A man who was shot in the buttocks has been transferred to Port Moresby for treatment and three more injured men will follow.

Mr Morrison said most of the 77 injured suffered head injuries, with 12 still in a serious condition.

He said detention centre security guards were not armed with guns.

The Minister said PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill had promised a thorough investigation.

Mr Morrison confirmed the death at a press conference on Tuesday morning.

"The news of a death is a great tragedy," Mr Morrison told reporters.

"Our sympathies are extended to the transferees - that person's family and friends who would have been in the facility as well.

"This is a tragedy but this was a very dangerous situation where people decide to protest in a very violent way and to take themselves outside the centre and place themselves at great risk."

Mr Morrison said 77 people had received treatment since early Tuesday morning, and 40 of them had been discharged from hospital.

Twenty-two had minor injuries and 13 had serious injuries.

Mr Morrison said it was a "distressing situation".

But the Government had taken steps in recent weeks to increase security at the facility, having learnt from similar violent incidents at detention sites on Nauru.

"On this occasion, the centre has not been destroyed, the centre will be able to resume operations," he said.

The man's death and most of the serious injuries happened outside the centre.

Mr Morrison said the suggestion that PNG police had entered the facility was incorrect and security contractor G4S would release a statement about that.

"There are all sorts of rumours that are put around in this environment," he said.

"We don't know what occurred outside the centre and that obviously will be the subject of an investigation into that person's death."

Mr Morrison said there had been a rolling series of protests, starting a few weeks ago, with largely peaceful demonstrations culminating in the violence of the past two nights.

"They will have frustrations about being in a centre they don't wish to be in because they wanted a very different outcome than being in either Manus Island or Nauru," he said.

"There will be those who will seek to take down our policies, to take down our processing centres, to try and destroy the regime we have put in place."

The Minister said the Government's resolve in sticking to its border protection policies was "absolute".

He said hundreds of asylum seekers died at sea before the Abbott Government came into power.

"The Government's resolve when it comes to our policies is very clear and that resolve won't break," he said.


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