Algerian president announced last night that well over 25 soldiers lost their lives trying to save residents from wildfires ravaging mountain forests and villages east of Algeria’s capital.
In a tweet, the Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune described the soldiers as “martyrs” who saved 100 people from the fires in two areas of Kabyle. This is a region that accommodates the Berber population in Algeria. Eleven other soldiers got grilled while trying to put out the fires.
According to Prime Minister Aïmene Benabderrahmane 17 civilians had lost their lives, raising the number from seven previously and bringing the total death toll to 42.
Kabyle region is dotted with inaccessible villages with high temperatures and has limited water. Some villagers fled, while others struggled to deal with the fires using buckets, branches, and rudimentary tools. The region has no water-dumping planes.
The deaths and injuries on Tuesday were recorded mainly around Kabyle’s capital, Tizi-Ouzou.
Benabderrahmane told reporters that initial reports from security services revealed the fires in Kabyle were “highly synchronized,” adding that “leads one to believe these were criminal acts.” Earlier, Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud traveled to Kabyle to assess the situation and also blamed the fires there on arson.
No further detail was given to explain the high death toll among the military.
On Monday, several blazes sprang up in Kabyle and elsewhere, and Algerian officials deployed the army to help citizens battle blazes and evacuate.
Multiple fires ravaged the forests and destroyed olive trees, cattle, and chickens that provide the livelihoods of families in the Kabyle region.