Police officers in plain clothes fired warning shots on Tuesday night in Chloraka, where a fight broke out near a controversial apartment complex that is reportedly under orders to close down.
According to police, there were reports of some 150 people being involved in an altercation outside an apartment complex in Chloraka, Paphos district, on Tuesday evening for still unknown reasons.
Based on reports and videos of the incident, the fight took place near the St. Nicolas Elegant Residence, a former holiday complex that was turned into affordable studio apartments for mostly asylum seekers.
Police told Knews that officers in plain clothes from CID Paphos and Crime Prevention drove to the area and fired warning shots after getting outside their vehicles and being pelted with rocks.
“We did not have any injuries but the officers fired a few warning shots in the air and the crowd immediately dispersed without further incident,” a communications officer told Knews on Wednesday morning.
People in the crowd had already fled the scene by the time anti-riot police arrived at the scene, but police said a 24-year-old male was later arrested by officers patrolling the area.
“He was not arrested for rioting but for knife possession,” the officer said, adding that it had not been established whether the suspect might have been involved in the fight.
Police declined to give further details about the incident or possible motive.
A total of six other men were arrested for another incident in Paphos that took place a day earlier, with media reports saying two groups had clashed in the town over a football game.
Police did not confirm or deny the description of the clash but said the incident in the town did not appear to be related with the fight in Chloraka.
Additional reports said Chloraka officials have been calling for the closure of St. Nicolas Elegant Residence, with community leader Nicholas Liasides supporting controversial measures by the Interior Ministry said to be aimed at tackling what he called “conditions of Ghettoization” in their town.
An emergency law, which went into effect in December 2020, bans asylum seekers from residing within specific zones including the community of Chloraka, where many refugees from Syria have been known to seek affordable residence.
But according to Liasides, the apartment complex in question has been ordered to shut down by an executive order issued by the Paphos district officer, citing zoning and hygiene violations.
The owner of the building, who was briefly detained in August 2020 for violating a decree banning certain foreigners from living in the area, has dismissed Liasides’ allegations that water supplied to the building was unsuitable for consumption, arguing that a decision to disrupt water supply to the apartments had been taken unbeknownst to him by a local court.
Another property owner south of Nicosia has also had a building shut down on an eviction notice, with 60 asylum seekers being extracted on New Year’s Eve and taken to a camp in Larnaca where deportation can take place for applicants who have their cases rejected.
Local residents in Chloraka say they want St. Nicolas Elegant Residence to be shut down, fearing demographic changes and other conditions affecting the local population.