Authorities in Algeria have linked last week’s outbreak to a brutal mob killing and burning of a man in a town in Algeria’s Kabyle region.
A man identified as Djamel Ben Ismail, 38, was lynched and burnt to death outside a police station on the main square in the town of Larbaa Nath Irathen, a village ravaged by flames in the Tizi-Ouzou district. The head of the judicial police has shared that 39 suspects have already been detained in connection to the murder while 22 have been arrested in connection with the fire. Authorities are yet to share the relationship between the two crimes.
The judicial police official, Mohamed Chagor, said the crowd in a “collective hysteria” dragged Ben Ismail out of a police station, where he was being protected, and attacked him. He said police officers decided not to fire warning shots at the mob in fear of making the situation worse.
Among those arrested were three women and the man who knifed the victim’s inanimate body before he was burned. Chagor said that when he was arrested the alleged knifer was preparing to flee to neighbouring Morocco, which has increasingly tense ties with Algeria.
About 74 fires tore through the mountainous regions in Algeria, killing at least 47 residents and 28 soldiers while destroying olive groves and livestock.
Most fires across other regions were being checked and “no longer represent a danger for residents,” Civil Protection official Col. Farouk Achour was quoted by the official APS news agency as saying.