Algeria to Review Ties with Morocco Following ‘Criminal’ Forest Fires

By AFP

Aug 19, 2021 06:18 PM

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad attends the voting meeting of Algerian People's National Assembly in Algiers, Algeria on Sept. 10, 2020. Algerian People's National Assembly Thursday unanimously adopted the draft of the new constitution, according to the official APS news agency. (Xinhua)

Algeria will review its relations with Morocco after accusing it of complicity in deadly forest fires, a presidency statement said Wednesday, in the latest tensions between the North African neighbors.

At least 90 people, including 33 soldiers, were killed in dozens of forest fires that broke out amid a blistering heatwave on August 9 across swathes of northern Algeria.

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has said most of the fires were "criminal" in origin.

The decision to review relations with Rabat was made during an extraordinary meeting of the country's security council, chaired by Tebboune and dedicated to evaluating the situation after the fires.

"The incessant hostile acts carried out by Morocco against Algeria have necessitated the review of relations between the two countries," the presidency statement said.

It said there would also be an "intensification of security controls on the western borders" with Morocco.

The border between Algeria and Morocco has been closed since 1994.

The statement did not clarify what the review might mean.

Algeria's DGSN security agency said investigations had discovered "a criminal network, classed as a terrorist organization" as being behind the fires, according to the "admission of arrested members."

Algerian authorities point the finger for the fires at the independence movement of the mainly Berber region of Kabylie, which extends along the Mediterranean coast east of the capital Algiers.

The authorities also accuse the Movement for Self-determination of Kabylie (MAK) of involvement in the lynching of a man falsely accused of arson, an incident that sparked outrage. The mob also set the victim on fire.

Authorities have arrested 61 people over the incident. 

Some of the suspects have confessed to being members of the MAK, according to confessions broadcast on Algerian television.

Algiers has also accused the Islamist-inspired Rachad movement of involvement.

AFP



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