Tourism project under spotlight

Fires in Dukan district raise suspicions of arson

DUKAN — Fires have engulfed the Dukan district over the last two days, prompting suspicions of intentional arson connected to a significant tourism project planned for the area. Local authorities are investigating the cause of the blazes.

A spokesperson for the Forest and Environment Police in Sulaymaniyah informed 964media, “Investigations are underway to determine the origins of the fires, which we suspect were set intentionally.”

Personnel from the Forest and Environment Department have been battling the flames in the Dukan district. In the Sara Mountains, the fires have consumed about one donum of shrubs and grass and 20 pine trees. In the Dukan Forest, approximately 10 donums of shrubs and grass and over 60 pine trees have been affected.

The loss of 80 pine trees has particularly heightened suspicions. Local residents on social media have expressed concerns that the fires were deliberately set to clear land for a tourism development. A police spokesperson confirmed these suspicions, stating, “Investigations are ongoing, and we will hold those responsible accountable.”

In an official statement, the Forest and Environment Police of Sulaymaniyah announced, “It is suspected that the fires were set intentionally, and investigations are ongoing.” The Dukan Forestry Office confirmed, “Detailed investigations continue to identify the arsonist.”

Azizi Saeed, the director of Sulaymaniyah Land Administration, told 964media, “The Sara Mountains and surrounding areas have been allocated to a private sector company for a large tourism project. This project includes components such as restaurants, hotels, motels, banquet halls, and a sports city.”

The project plans have been finalized in Sulaymaniyah Province. Saeed said, “The project has received approval from the Council of Ministers,” which includes areas around Sara Mountain and near the Dukan district.

The police are still working to identify those responsible for the fires. Hemen Kamarkhan, a spokesperson for the Sulaymaniyah Forest and Environment Police, told 964media, “With the cooperation of local police and evidence from security cameras, we are investigating the fires. However, no arrests have been made so far.”

The police spokesperson emphasized, “If it is proven that anyone or any group is behind these fires for the purpose of developing a tourism project, we will hold them accountable.”

The Dukan tourism project is a major undertaking involving collaboration between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the private sector, with an investment of $1.6 billion.