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Cyprus

Police urge public to come forward with information after weekend fires

File photo

Following two large fires caused by arson during the weekend, police on Monday called for anybody with any information on them which may help investigations to come forward.

Residents are urged to contact any police station, the citizens hotline at 1460 or submit a post via the electronic platform Report a Crime on the police app.

All information will be treated confidentially, police said.

More measures will be taken to combat the arsons, the forestry department said, adding for now the council of ministers has prohibited the movement of private cars on forest roads without a reason from 8pm until 5am every night until August 17. Some roads have also been closed using barriers.

Forest department director Charalambous Alexandrou on Monday condemned the arsons, saying there must be serious decisions to combat the phenomenon.

“Police must do their utmost to locate and arrest the arsonists, so that they can be punished by example,” he said.

It is possible that the fires were started by former seasonal forest firefighters who are dissatisfied that they have not been hired this year, but may also be the result of disputes by farmers or hunters who resort to arson as a revenge instead of resolving them peacefully.

A fire on four fronts raged on Sunday afternoon in the Prastio Avdimou area of Limassol with the fire service using aircraft to fight it.

Eight fire engines were dispatched to fight the fire in addition to two from the forestry department and one from the game fund.

A large fire on Saturday in the area of Kouklia, Archimandrita, Orites, Mousere and Dora destroyed 5km² of land, three of which were national forest.

A total of 190 people and 32 fire trucks of the forestry department were needed to put out the flames in addition to 35 firemen and 15 vehicles of the fire service; and 30 people and five vehicles of the civil defence in addition to two people and one fire truck and five bulldozers of the Game Fund and officers of the Paphos police force plus volunteers.

To fight the fire from the air, the Icarus plan was also put into action which involved ten aircraft including planes and helicopters of the police, the British bases and the national guard.

Alexandrou said the team needed to put out the fire was the largest ever used in Cyprus because of the length of its front.

The cause of the fire has been confirmed to be arson.

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