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Indonesia arrests nearly 200 over raging forest fires

Indonesia has arrested nearly 200 people over vast forest fires ripping across the archipelago, police said on Monday, as toxic haze sends air quality levels plummeting and sparks flight cancellations.

Jakarta has deployed thousands of personnel to battle blazes that are turning land into charred landscapes and consuming forests in Sumatra and Borneo islands, where thousands of schools have been shut over health fears.

The fires - usually started by illegal burning to clear land for farming - have unleashed choking haze across Southeast Asia, triggering diplomatic tensions with Indonesia's neighbours.

On Monday, authorities said they had arrested about 185 people suspected of being involved in activities that led to out-of-control fires sweeping the country.

Meanwhile, nearly 150,000 people have been treated for acute respiratory infections linked to the haze in recent months, according to Indonesian health authorities.