Man firebombs migrant processing centre in Dover before killing himself at petrol station

Police have confirmed suspect was found dead soon after attack

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Editor
Sunday 30 October 2022 19:49 GMT
'Petrol bomb' thrown at Dover migrant centre
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A man threw firebombs at an immigration centre in Kent before killing himself nearby.

Police said up to three incendiary devices were thrown on Sunday morning at the reception of the Western Jet Foil facility in Dover, where asylum seekers are processed after being rescued from small boats in the English Channel.

A witness from the Reuters news agency said the perpetrator drove to a nearby petrol station and killed himself and the local MP said she had been informed of the suicide.

Kent Police confirmed the man was found dead at the petrol station, where another firebomb was discovered in his car.

Two people have reported minor injuries at the centre, where almost 1,000 people were brought to shore on Saturday.

A statement said: “Officers established that two to three incendiary devices had been thrown outside and into the premises by a single suspect who arrived at the scene in a car.

“Two people have reported minor injuries from inside the property. The suspect was identified and very quickly located at a nearby petrol station, and confirmed deceased.

“The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit attended the location to ensure there were no further threats. A further device was found and confirmed safe within the suspect’s vehicle.

“The site remained open, however around 700 suspected migrants were relocated to Manston to ensure safety during the initial phase of the police investigation.”

A Reuters photographer captured the moment the suspect, a middle-aged white man wearing a checked shirt, pulled up outside Western Jet Foil in a white car and launched the petrol bombs out of the window.

The homemade devices, which appeared to be attached to fireworks, hit barriers surrounding the facility and burst into flames.

Photos later showed the same white Seat being examined by police officers at a BP petrol station on the nearby A20.

Natalie Elphicke, the MP for Dover, said people were being looked after following the “absolutely dreadful” attack and that the motivation was not immediately known.

She told LBC radio station: “I understand that the Dover immigration centre that is at the Port of Dover was firebombed with a number of devices before an individual then committed suicide.”

Ms Elphicke said that tensions had been rising in the area after migrants entered local homes after making rare uncontrolled because landings, and that “precautions are being made” for asylum seekers' safety.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, called the incident “deeply shocking”.

“Thank you to the emergency services for responding,” she wrote on Twitter. “Thoughts with all those affected by this.”

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said he was being kept updated on the situation on Sunday afternoon.

“Earlier today there was a serious incident at Dover,” he tweeted. “I am being kept regularly updated by the police.

“My sympathies are with those involved and my thanks and admiration are with Kent Police and Border Force officers as they go about their essential work to keep us safe.”

Almost seven hours after the attack, the home secretary Suella Braverman tweeted: “There was a distressing incident in Dover earlier today. I am receiving regular updates on the situation.

Western Jet Foil is one of two processing centres for Channel migrants in Kent

“My thoughts are with those affected, the tireless Home Office staff and police responding. We must now support those officers as they carry out their investigation.”

The home secretary, who has backed a series of hardline policies on Channel crossings, has been accused of worsening conditions at migrant processing centres by refusing to sign off on new hotels where asylum seekers can be housed.

A spokesperson for the Detention Action charity said: “We're deeply alarmed at reports of a violent attack on people seeking asylum held at a processing centre in Dover.

”It violates the deepest values of our society to wish for or inflict violence on people who came to us seeking protection.

“This government must condemn today’s attack and take every step possible to protect the safety, rights and welfare of the people seeking asylum in their care.”

A record of more than 38,000 migrants have arrived in England on small boats so far this year, despite the government attempting to use punitive laws and policies, including the Rwanda agreement, as “deterrents”.

Police said inquiries into the incident were ongoing

More than 90 per cent have claimed asylum and 85 per cent of the applications processed for small-boat migrants who arrived in 2021 were granted.

There have been a number of far-right arson attacks and firebombings targeting refugee facilities across Europe, with numerous incidents in Germany in recent years.

Western Jet Foil is one of two processing centres for Channel migrants in Kent. It is used to carry out immediate welfare and safety checks, with officials giving people medical care and dry clothes.

They are then taken to a former RAF base at Manston for full security checks. Manston was set up earlier this year as a short-term processing facility intended to hold people for 24 hours.

But because of a lack of Home Office accommodation and hotels for asylum seekers to be moved to, up to 3,000 people are now being held there – with one Afghan family detained in a tent for over a month.

Cases of diphtheria and scabies have been spreading, sparking calls for urgent action by the borders watchdog and MPs.

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