Fires started to make way for oil palm crops in Indonesia.
A group of 100 men took a team of government environmental investigators hostage and threatened to burn them alive in Indonesia, on 2 September, while the officials were investigating illegal fires allegedly started by a palm oil company.
The mob was allegedly hired by Andika Permata Sawit Lestari (APSL), an oil palm company operating in Riau Province in Sumatra. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry said the team of officials was held captive until the following morning, when they were released after negotiations.
While being held, the investigators were allegedly told that they would be killed and dumped in a river. The Ministry said there were ‘’strong indications’’ that the men were operating under orders from APSL.
A few days after the episode, the company denied the allegations to The Jakarta Post, blaming the kidnapping on local farmers instead.
Ministry officials had been investigating fires in areas controlled by APSL. They found that more than 2,000ha had been illegally burned, and that there was strong evidence this had been done deliberately, to prepare the area for oil palm.
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