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Saturday, August 14, 1999 Published at 20:55 GMT 21:55 UK


Refugees clash with residents

Thousands of refugees pass through the port of Dover each year

Three people have been arrested and five injured in fighting between refugees and residents in a major UK port.

The police were out in force on the streets of Dover, Kent, to prevent further violence after the unrest, which broke out near a funfair at about 1430 BST on Saturday.

None of the injuries were thought to be life-threatening, although some people were treated for knife wounds.

"Various incidents of sporadic public disorder have been experienced in the Dover area this afternoon," said a police spokesman.

Extremists 'not involved'

"The details, nationalities and identities of the persons arrested and injured will not be released by the police for the time being."

Extra police will remain in the town until the fair leaves on Sunday.

It was not known what sparked the clashes. Extremist groups were not thought to be involved at this stage, the spokesman said.

At least one of the injured has been taken to William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, while others have gone to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Canterbury.

A police spokesman said later that the refugees involved were thought to come from the Balkans.

Tension rising

Relations between refugees and residents in Kent have been increasingly strained over the past few months, as more and more asylum seekers arrive from France.

French police recently admitted they were struggling to stop gangs smuggling dozens of Kosovans to England every week.

In March, police arrested 24 people after the National Front and Anti-Nazi League clashed during a demonstration over asylum seekers from eastern Europe.

On Wednesday 117 Kosovo Albanians were discovered in fields on the Isle of Grain.

The leader of Kent County Council, Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, has written to immigration minister Barbara Roche expressing fears that increasing local resentment might provoke arson attacks.

More than 5,000 asylum seekers are now living in Dover and Kent's other coastal towns and Mr Bruce-Lockhart said an estimated 1,000 a month were joining them.

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