Published June 25, 2013
PEKANBARU, Indonesia – Police say eight farmers have been arrested for setting illegal fires on Indonesia's Sumatra island to clear land after numerous blazes created a choking haze in parts of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.
Local police spokesman Lt. Col. Hermansyah said the farmers were arrested Monday and Tuesday after being caught "red-handed," but he did not say whether they were employed by large companies that have been accused of deliberately starting the fires.
Hermansyah said about 1,100 residents were forced to flee two Sumatran villages on Tuesday as thick smoke from burning peat swamps and palm oil plantations made it difficult to breathe.
A day after apologizing to people in neighboring Singapore and Malaysia, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono deployed 3,000 additional personnel Tuesday to fight the fires.