Indonesian police arrest hundreds linked to forest fires

Indonesian police arrest hundreds linked to forest fires
A military plane is parked before a cloud seeding mission at Subang military airbase as sky is shrouded with haze in Subang, Malaysia, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. Indonesian forest fires spread health-damaging haze across the country and into neighboring Malaysia and Singapore. Malaysian authorities used cloud seeding Monday in an attempt to clear the thick haze engulfing the nation's capital. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian police say they have arrested 230 people suspected of starting fires that are spreading health-damaging haze across a large part of Southeast Asia.

National police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said Thursday that those arrested include three men who were caught while trying to clear land to plant crops in the Tesso Nilo National Park, which is home to about 140 endangered wild elephants.

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

Indonesia’s fires are an annual problem that strain relations with neighboring countries.

The smoke from the fires has blanketed parts of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and southern Thailand in a noxious haze.