[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 26 November, 2004, 10:28 GMT
Protest rocks Aboriginal island
People on streets in Palm Island (26/11/04)
Hundreds of people were involved in the incident
Hundreds of protesters on an Aboriginal island off Australia's northern coast have stormed the local police station, after the death of a man in custody.

One resident said there was smoke everywhere and that the building had almost been burnt to the ground.

Armed police officers are expected to be flown to Palm Island, near Townsville, to try to restore order.

There has been rising tension since an indigenous man, Cameron Doomagee, was found dead in a police cell last week.

The release of a post-mortem report, which showed he suffered broken ribs and died from a punctured lung, has fuelled the anger.

Island resident Nicky Bull told Australian radio that a police residential building had also been torched.

"The atmosphere is just anger amongst the residents here, but it's very, very freaky here at the moment because a lot of those people are not used to seeing our people like this," he said.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie appealed for calm.

"We are prepared to work with the community but the leaders of Palm Island have got to take charge and act responsibly to restore some order," he said.

Extra police officers were flown in from the mainland earlier this week and up to 50 more are preparing to join them.

But some residents were reported to be preparing to try and prevent any plane from landing by parking vehicles on the runway.

Palm Island is one of Australia's largest Aboriginal communities, and is home to about 3,000 people.

As with many other Aboriginal communities, it suffers serious problems of unemployment, domestic violence and alcohol abuse.

It was once described by the Guinness Book of Records as the most violent place in the world, outside a combat zone.

Friday's violence follows a serious outbreak of racial rioting in Sydney in February, when more than 40 police were injured in a riot sparked by the death of an Aboriginal teenager.

Police were cleared of having caused the death of the boy.

Footage shows the aftermath of the riots

Australia unveils Aboriginal body
06 Nov 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Australian army photo stirs row
11 Nov 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Howard axes Aboriginal body
15 Apr 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Aborigines fight for their money back
07 Apr 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Aborigine health 'getting worse'
30 Mar 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia's lost generation
16 Feb 04 |  Asia-Pacific

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific