Some 150 asylum-seekers mostly from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan reportedly attack each other in their temporary detention center on Christmas Island at the northwestern coast of Australia.
The riot resulted in the wounding of 37 with three detainees seriously hurt and later brought to Perth for medical treatment. Some guards also suffered minor injuries.
Australian Immigration Minister Chris Evans said an argument between Afghans and Sri Lankans started the riot among sylum-seeker on Chrismas Island.
"It seems like there was a fight between some Afghans and some Sri Lankans and that sort of escalated," Evans told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, rejecting claims of overcrowding.
"But essentially we have had a fight between some detainees which got out of hand and until there is a full police investigation, we are only really speculating as (to) what the real causes were," Evans added
Australia has become a popular destination of asylum-seekers mostly from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Recently some 250 Tamil refugees bound for Australia were intercepted and held by Indonesian authorities reportedly on a tip-off from Australian authorities.
More than 40 boats carrying more than 2,000 asylum seekers, mostly from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Iraq, have arrived in Australian waters this year.
As of Friday, 1,184 were detained at Christmas Island, which recently moved to boost its capacity by installing temporary beds in a recreation area and shipping in portable buildings, the report added.