‘I have nothing left’: Algeria commences three days of mourning amid claims wildfires caused by arsonists

Fires have broken out in the mountainous Kabylie region, east of the capital, and home to many of the country’s Amazigh community, writes Simon Speakman Cordall

Thursday 12 August 2021 18:08
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Wall of flames: Desperate Algerian villages attempt to tackle wildfires

Algeria commenced three days of mourning on Thursday after 69 people were killed by wildfires which ravaged parts of the country. Meanwhile in neighbouring Tunisia, record temperatures sparked blazes that have, so far, engulfed around 3000 hectares of forest, even though no fatalities have as yet been recorded.

Speaking on Wednesday, Algeria’s president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, declared the mourning period for the “civil and military persons” who had lost their lives in the fire. Tunisia’s president, Kais Saied, has offered help, while also fighting potentially deadly fires on his own border. Appearing on state television earlier, Algeria’s prime minister, Ayman Benabderrahmane appealed for international help, saying that the government was already in talks with partners to hire planes to extinguish the fires. The region has no water-dumping aircraft.

Both the governments in Algiers and Tunis have suggested the multiple blazes may have been started deliberately, but have stopped short of providing details of who or why. Tunisia has dispatched civil protection units and the national guard to the northern area close to the Algerian border, where they continue to evacuate homes ahead of the spreading blaze.

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