Twenty-two people have been arrested by the police in Algeria on suspicion of being behind the most devastating wildfires in the country’s history that killed 69 people, including soldiers who were on a rescue operation.
The suspected arsonists were rounded up on Friday after dozens of forest fires hit mountainous areas in northern Algeria since Monday, mainly in Tizi Ouzou of the Kabylie region east of the capital, Algiers.
President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, said in a live speech on state television:
“Some fires have been caused by high temperatures but criminal hands were behind most of them.
“We have arrested 22 suspects, including 11 in Tizi Ouzou. Justice will perform its duty.
“We must preserve national unity … I insist on national unity.”
28 soldiers were among the dead as the North African country deployed the army to help firefighters contain blazes that ravaged houses in forested areas.
Tebboune added that a “solidarity fund” will provide some financial aid to families affected by the fires, which have destroyed homes, olive groves and animals that provide livelihoods in the region.
Prime Minister Aimene Benabderrahmane, who visited Tizi Ouzou on Thursday, the regional capital of Kabylie, said “for the moment, the most important is to extinguish the fires and above all, to take care of the population.”
Algerian authorities have struggled to contain the fires which have since spread to several other provinces.
The country’s National Meteorological Office said extremely hot weather was forecast through Thursday in nearly a dozen regions, including around Tizi Ouzou. In some places, the temperature was expected to hit 47C.
Join the conversation
Support Ripples Nigeria, hold up solutions journalism
Balanced, fearless journalism driven by data comes at huge financial costs.
If you are motivated and passionate about building a global society, founded on justice, equity, fairness, transparency, accountability and superior knowledge, kindly consider donating to Ripples Nigeria’s solutions journalism.
Your support would help to ensure that citizens and institutions continue to have free access to credible and reliable information for societal development.
INVESTIGATION: Inside UNILAG’s multi-million naira budgetary abuse and academic discord
The University of Lagos located in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, has been embroiled in controversies with allegations bothering on misappropriation of...
SPECIAL REPORT: Displaced residents of Zamfara battle hunger, as underfunding derails Nigeria’s nutrition goals
On paper, Muhammad Zayyanu is seven years old. The quiet boy who looks shorter for his age could not recollect...
INVESTIGATION: N7.3bn paid for unnamed projects; how Nigerian govt spent N2.2trn in six months
Analysing nearly 3,000 payments made by various Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) over the previous six months (January...
INVESTIGATION… Delay rocks Nigerian govt’s promise of N30,000 covid-19 relief for artisans, others
Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in February, 2020, Chukwudi Okoroigwe’s daily earnings as a bus driver was hardly enough to cater to the...
INVESTIGATION… Ten years after, communities count losses as AfDB, Cross River govt abandon road project
Ten years after the Cross River State government and African Development Bank (AFDB) jointly awarded the Yahe-Wanokom-Wanikade-Benue border road for...