World Bulletin / News Desk
About 1,500 refugees started a riot in Bulgaria's largest refugee camp on Thursday amid growing tensions in displaced persons reception centres across the Balkans, officials said.
The refugees set car tyres on fire and threw stones at some 250 police, firefighters and gendarmerie at the Harmanli reception centre close to the Turkish border, local police spokeswoman Nina Nikolova told AFP.
She said the protest erupted over "a recently imposed ban on refugees leaving the premises of the centre".
"The situation has been brought under control at the moment. Negotiations are under way between the protesting refugees and the state refugee agency," Nikolova added.
Private bTV television footage showed officers in riot gear and with a water cannon facing a wall of refugees against a backdrop of thick black smoke at the camp's entrance.
The centre, which houses well over 3,000 refugees, was the scene of another protest in October when several hundred Afghans demanded they be allowed to continue their journey towards western Europe.
With a fence on the Turkish border, Bulgaria has largely remained on the sidelines of Europe's worst migration crisis since 1945, which unfolded last year.
Nonetheless some 13,000 refugees, mostly from Afghanistan, are currently trapped in the European Union's poorest country.
Although the so-called Balkan refugee trail was effectively shut down in March, refugees have continued to cross the region in smaller numbers.
Tensions have been rising particularly in Greece where tens of thousands of people remain stranded.
Neo-Nazis launched a series of attacks on a refugee camp on the eastern island of Chios.
A number of people were injured in the violence, which also left dozens of refugees stranded without a tent.
AFPLast Mod: 24 Kasım 2016, 19:22