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Algeria: 26 arrested for deliberately starting 131 forest fires

Firefighters try to extinguish a forest fire [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

The Algerian Gendarmerie Nationale’s investigation into fires that ripped through 36 states has resulted in the arrest of 26 people, according to a statement released by the Gendarmerie’s official agency this week.

Some 5.4 tonnes of coal were confiscated in the arrests. It is believed the material was used to destroy 11,663.5 hectares of land in which nine people were killed and 17 injured with third-degree burns between 20 July and 13 August.

Authorities registered 131 fires which destroyed 4,446 fruit trees, 159 hectares of agricultural land and 162 houses over the three week period.

Read: Algeria sets up fund to help fire-ravaged provinces

Head of the Workers’ Party, Louisa Hanoune accused corporations of deliberately starting the fires so as to free up land for construction and housing projects. Algeria is suffering from a shortage of housing.