. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rioting of Vietnam Migrants Continues

HONG KONG -- Rioting Vietnamese hurled rocks and spears, and police fired teargas in a Hong Kong prison camp Saturday in a second day of rioting by boat people resisting deportation.


The rioters waved banners, shouted slogans and bombarded the police from hut roofs after authorities tried to round up inmates for the latest wave of forced repatriation. Security forces said six officers were injured in the clash.


A Friday uprising and mass breakout at the Whitehead camp in the rural New Territories was one of the worst riots in Hong Kong penal institutions in years. Rioters razed 26 buildings, set ablaze 53 vehicles and burned camp inmate records.


Prisons commissioner Raymond Lai said 119 inmates escaped after toppling fences and storming the gates Friday. About 80 had been recaptured, leaving about 35 on the run.


Lai told reporters a reliable count was made Saturday and earlier estimates that 200 had escaped were exaggerated.


The camp's 8,600 detainees have failed to secure refugee status and are deemed illegal immigrants.


China insists all 18,000 boat people detained behind barbed wire in Hong Kong be removed by the time the territory reverts to Chinese sovereignty in mid-1997.


"Vietnamese migrants showed complete disregard not only for law and order but also for life and property. Seventeen staff narrowly escaped death from a building set on fire," Lai said.


"This incident will not shake the government's resolve. These people will be going back to Vietnam. The sooner the better."