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Indonesia gets tough on firestarters, 230 arrested

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Indonesian police announced the arrest of 230 people suspected of starting fires which triggered the haze that is now gripping Malaysia, Singapore and the republic itself.

According to a report by The Star, Indonesia's national police spokesperson Dedi Prasetyo said three men were caught trying to clear land to plant crops in Tesso Nilo National Park, home to about 140 endangered wild elephants, were among those arrested.

Prasetyo said those arrested could be prosecuted under an environmental protection law that mandates a maximum 10-year prison sentence for setting fires to clear land.

The fires are an annual problem that affects Indonesia's ties with its neighbours.

Indonesian authorities have also sealed off land owned by at least 49 plantation companies in the past week for investigation after fires were found on their land.

The Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency satellites detected 2,719 hotspots across the country on Thursday. It said 99 percent of the hotspots were caused by fires that were deliberately set.

Indonesian authorities have deployed more than 9,000 people to fight the fires, which have razed more than 328,700 hectares of land across the nation.

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