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Wildfires blaze through Algeria, killing 65

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Reuters
(Last Updated On: August 13, 2021)

Wildfires tearing through forested areas of northern Algeria have killed at least 65 people, state television reported on Wednesday (August 11) as the country battled some of the most destructive blazes in its history.

The government has deployed the army to help fight the fires, which have burnt most fiercely in the mountainous Kabylie region, and 28 of the dead are soldiers.

Eyewitness footage showed fires ripping through a forest in Tizi Ouzou, the largest Kabylie district, where houses have burned and residents have fled to hotels, hostels and university accommodation in nearby towns.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune declared three days of national mourning and froze state activities not related to the fires.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Paris would send two water bombers to the Kabylie region, promising on Twitter to “bring all our support to Algerian citizens.”

Forest fires have set large parts of Algeria, Turkey and Greece aflame over the past week as temperatures rose.

Dozens of fires have raged through forest areas across northern Algeria since Monday (August 9). On Tuesday (August 10), Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud accused arsonists of igniting the flames, but produced no evidence.

Meanwhile, Algeria has arrested 22 people suspected of being behind the most devastating wildfires in the country’s history that killed 65 people, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said on Thursday, calling the fires a ‘disaster’ and urging the preservation of national unity.

Dozens of forest fires have hit mountainous areas in northern Algeria since Monday, mainly in Tizi Ouzou, the main province of the Kabylie region east of the capital, Algiers.

“Some fires have been caused by high temperatures but criminal hands were behind most of them,” Tebboune said in a live speech on state television. “We have arrested 22 suspects, including 11 in Tizi Ouzou. Justice will perform its duty.”

World

Russia’s Putin hosts Iranian counterpart in Kremlin

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(Last Updated On: January 20, 2022)

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted on Wednesday (January 19) his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi for talks in Moscow as Russia tries to help salvage a nuclear deal between world powers and Tehran, Reuters reported.

Putin and Iranian Raisi held discussions on the issues of bilateral cooperation Kremlin said, Reuters reported.

Raisi said that a visit to Russia could be a turning point in political, trade and economic relations between the two countries, Russian News Agency RIA Novosti reports.

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More than a dozen dead in coalition strikes on Yemen’s Sanaa

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(Last Updated On: January 18, 2022)

An air strike killed about 14 people in a building in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, residents said on Tuesday, during strikes across the city launched by the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi group, Reuters reported.

The alliance strikes on Houthi-held Sanaa followed an attack claimed by the Iran-aligned Houthis on Monday on coalition partner the United Arab Emirates, in Abu Dhabi, in which three people were killed.

The coalition also said it intercepted eight drones launched toward Saudi Arabia on Monday.

Early on Tuesday, the coalition said it had begun air strikes against strongholds and camps in Sanaa belonging to the Houthi group, Saudi state media said.

According to Reuters the strikes appeared to be the deadliest since 2019 on Sanaa.

The strike that killed about 14 people, according to initial estimates, was on the home of a former military official.

It killed him, his wife, his 25-year-old son, other family members and some unidentified people, a medical source and residents told Reuters.

Coalition strikes around the city had killed a total of about 20 people, the deputy foreign minister for the Houthi administration, which holds much of northern Yemen, said on Twitter.

Houthi-run Al Masirah TV said strikes had damaged houses, killed at least a dozen people and wounded about a dozen.

The UAE has armed and trained Yemeni forces that recently joined fighting against the Houthis in Yemen’s energy-producing regions of Shabwa and Marib.

Monday’s Houthi-claimed attack on two sites in the UAE set off explosions in fuel trucks, killed three people and ignited a blaze near Abu Dhabi airport, read the report.

In response, the UAE said it reserved the right to respond to “terrorist attacks and criminal escalation”.

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Pakistan PM and Russia’s Putin discuss Afghanistan in phone call

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(Last Updated On: January 17, 2022)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin discussed Afghanistan over the phone on Monday and both agreed that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was key to regional stability.

According to a press release issued by Imran Khan’s office, the prime minister told Putin “that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was pivotal for regional stability. Afghanistan was facing dire humanitarian and economic challenges and support of the international community to the people of Afghanistan at this critical juncture remained vitally important”.

The statement also noted that Khan underscored the importance of the release of Afghanistan’s financial assets for addressing the dire needs of the Afghan people.

“The Prime Minister underscored that Pakistan’s bilateral relationship with Russia was on an upward trajectory, with an increased focus on trade and economic ties and energy cooperation,” the press release stated, adding that the premier reiterated the government’s resolve for early realization of the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline Project.

Both leaders also agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in different areas, including Afghanistan and increase high-level exchanges.

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