Chowever, at least two reports published by the Greek media implicating migrants in fires were denied.

Anti-migrant fury intensified when a group of Pakistanis and Syrians were accused on social media of having been caught in the act of trying to start a fire near the town of Alexandropolis in Evros.

This border region of Turkey has been the scene of violent fires since Saturday, spread by high temperatures and strong winds.

On Tuesday, a local resident broadcast a live video on the social network Facebook showing migrants crammed into a caravan and bragging about having caught them for trying to “set us on fire”.

“Don’t show them… burn them!” commented one netizen.

The man who released the video was arrested, as well as two suspected accomplices, with authorities stressing that such acts would not be tolerated.

The three detainees were accused of inciting racist violence by the Greek judicial authorities.

As for the migrants, they were accused of illegal entry into the country and attempted arson by a public prosecutor in Alexandrópolis.

However, a government source told the daily Kathimerini that the available evidence suggests instead that the migrants could be linked to an accidental fire.

The 45-year-old man who was arrested for detaining migrants in the caravan was placed under house arrest today.

He claimed, in turn, to have intervened after seeing the migrants trying to ignite an incendiary device in bushes near a supermarket.

A photograph of the presumed incendiary device posted on social media shows two car tires filled with polystyrene foam and wood.

This racist rhetoric goes hand in hand with the misinformation conveyed by some media.

A digital local information portal reported on Tuesday that 20 migrants had been detained near Alexandrópolis after an exchange of fire with the police. Authorities refuted such claims.

The television station Open also made a denial on Wednesday, after having wrongly reported that two migrants had been surprised to start a fire in the neighboring region of Rodopi.

Northern Greece has been ravaged by fierce fires that have forced the evacuation of more than 14,000 people, including a hospital.

Several fire fronts, which merged into a line 15 kilometers long, reduced more than 60,000 hectares of agricultural land and forest to ashes.

This remote area, one of the poorest in Greece, is just a few kilometers from the Turkish border. Migrants seeking asylum in the European Union (EU) very regularly try to cross the land border.

Resentment against migrants runs high in Greek border areas, where locals often accuse asylum seekers of theft and say reckless driving by people smugglers poses a serious risk on the roads.

The extreme right achieves one of its best results in the country there.

“I am completely convinced that the fires were caused by migrants,” said an inhabitant of the Evros region, Christos Paschalakis, quoted by the French news agency AFP.

“They burn us, steal us, kill us in car accidents,” he maintained.

“I have no doubt that the forest fire was started by migrants,” said Vangelis Ralis, a 70-year-old retired woodcutter from the village of Dadia.

Maintaining that last year “they” burned part of the nearby natural park, he added that “this year they returned to finish the job”.

“Perhaps they were even paid to do it. They want to destroy us”, he insisted, although his statements are not supported by any evidence.

Of the more than 20 people killed in this week’s fires, 19 were migrants.

Eighteen people, including two children, were found dead on Tuesday near a village located 38 kilometers from the border with Turkey. And another migrant had already been found dead the day before.

The head of the Evros border guard, Valandis Gialamas, indicated that he expected more corpses of migrants to be found, since their arrivals in the country from Turkey have multiplied in recent days.

The non-governmental organization for the defense of human rights Amnesty International on Wednesday called on Greece to “with the utmost urgency remove all people stranded in the Evros region and who are unable to travel safely due to the fires”.

Also Read: Fires lose steam near Athens (but out of control in the northeast)

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