Wildfires tearing through forested areas of northern Algeria have killed at least 65 people, state television reported on Wednesday, as some of the most destructive blazes in the country’s history continued to rage. Forest fires have set large parts of Algeria, Turkey and Greece aflame over the past week and a European Union atmosphere monitor said the Mediterranean had become a wildfire hotspot aided by increasingly hot weather.
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down on Tuesday after 20 years in office, and six weeks of massive nationwide protests aimed at pushing him and his much-criticized inner circle from power to create a real democracy in the gas-rich nation. The announcement followed soon after a sternly-worded call from the powerful army chief for Bouteflika, 82 and ailing, to “immediately” bow out. The Constitutional Council was expected to convene Wednesday to formalize his departure.
257 people died after an Algerian military plane carrying army personnel crashed near an airbase outside the capital Algiers, reported Algerian State TV. The plane, an Ilyushin Il-76, mostly carried soldier when it went down shortly after takeoff near Boufarif airport on Wednesday morning.
Algerian police used water cannon on Tuesday to disperse crowds demonstrating against the appointment of a new interim president. Abdelkader Bensalah, the speaker of parliament’s upper house, succeeds long-term President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who resigned last week. Peaceful demonstrations have been taking place for weeks, but many protesters want more radical change. The 77-year-old is seen as being very close to the ailing former president, who had been in power for 20 years.
The nation of Algeria went offline on Wednesday for the start of high school exams, in the first of a series of internet blackouts meant to prevent cheating, which will continue from June 20th to 25th. The Algerian education minister said the ‘extreme measure’ is being taken in response to material leaks in previous years.