JAKARTA, Indonesia – Police Tuesday (June 25th) arrested nine people they say deliberately set fires in the forests of Sumatra and Kalimantan, causing a smoky haze that has enveloped and angered neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore, local media reported.
"The motive for the forest burning is associated with land clearing," Police Headquarters spokesman Ronny Franky Sompie told reporters, according to Tempo. The fires quickly spread, forcing evacuations.
The Jakarta Post identified eight as farmers, who were caught "red-handed" setting fires to clear land on Sumatra Island, according to local police spokesman Hermansyah. "The smoke has hurt throats and eyes. Visibility there is really bad."
The Post reports that conditions have forced about 1,100 residents from the villages of Rantau Bais and Bangko Pusako in Riau province
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono deployed 2,000 more personnel Tuesday to fight the fires, whose smoke has made air quality levels dangerously poor.