Algeria begins three days of mourning amid forest fire allegations caused by arsonists

AAlgeria began three days of mourning on Thursday after 69 people were killed by forest fires that ravaged parts of the country. Meanwhile, in neighboring Tunisia, record temperatures have sparked fires that have so far engulfed around 3,000 hectares of forest, though no deaths have yet been recorded.

Speaking Wednesday, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune decreed the period of mourning for “Civilians and soldiers” who had lost their lives in the fire. Tunisian President Kais Saied offered help, while fighting potentially fatal fires on its own border. Earlier appearing on state television, Algerian Prime Minister Ayman Benabderrahmane appealed for international aid, saying the government was already in talks with partners to hire planes to put out the fires. The area does not have a water discharge plane.

The governments of Algiers and Tunis have suggested that the multiple fires may have been started on purpose, but declined to provide details on who or why. Tunisia has sent civil protection units and the national guard to the northern zone near the Algerian border, where they continue to evacuate homes before the fire spread.

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