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Tear gas used against rioters

TEAR gas was used to break up a riot...

Tear gas was used to break up a riot at Curtin Detention Centre which left officers injured and saw several buildings set on fire, Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said today.

Mr Ruddock said Australasian Correctional Management guards at the West Australian centre resorted to tear gas when they were cornered by rioters and feared for their own safety.

"I understand ... a number of officers - I believe two or three - were caught in an area, surrounded by a large number of detainees, in considerable fear for their safety," he said.

"And in those circumstances, a small number of tear gas canisters were released in order to disperse the crowd."

Mr Ruddock said a group of about 40 detainees had assaulted guards earlier in the day.

"One of the officers had a chair broken across his back and two others were seriously assaulted," he said.

He said the rioters were from a group that was unlikely to be given refugee status.