Anger in Algeria as man accused of fires brutally murdered
An angry mob is seen in a video dragging Jamal Bin Ismail out of a police car after he was wrongly detained on suspicion of starting forest fires that have ripped through Algeria’s northcentral Tizi Ouzou province. The video then shows the crowd beating the suspect to death and setting his body on fire.
Tizi Ouzou falls within the Kabylie region of Algeria, where the North African nation's Berber majority is concentrated. It has also been the hotspot of recent wildfires, which have killed at least 65 people, including dozens of soldiers attempting to extinguish the blazes.
The identity of Ismail - an artist from the northwestern town of Miliana - was later revealed. His family and friends said he was a peaceful man who travelled to Tizi Ouzou to help with aid operations.
Activists expressed fury over his senseless killing and the mob for taking the law into their own hands.
"Extrajudicial killing is a crime punishable by law, defaming a dead body is a crime in itself. As for taking away a suspect from the hands of the security forces, this is a flagrant violation of the (work of) public forces that are required to protect the suspect until proven guilty," wrote journalist Ahmed Hijab.
"What they did was a barbaric act."
The authorities say they suspect widespread arson is behind the wildfires due to the large number of blazes that erupted in such a short space of time. They have announced several arrests but have not revealed the identity of any suspects or any motives for arson.
There have been mounting calls for aid convoys to be sent to the worst-hit districts with food and medicine from the capital.
President Abdelmadjid Tebboune called for three days of mourning starting Thursday.
The catastrophe comes as Algerians face a socioeconomic crisis amid an unstable political situation.