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Two arrested over Australian wildfires: police

Two people have been arrested in connection with Australia's deadly wildfires after they were reported to have been behaving suspiciously, police said on Thursday

sports Updated: Feb 12, 2009 09:49 IST

Two people have been arrested in connection with Australia's deadly wildfires after they were reported to have been behaving suspiciously, police said on Thursday

Police did not specify that the arrests were connected to arson, which has been blamed for at least one inferno that killed more than 20 people.

Detectives had responded to a call from the public about the suspicious behaviour in the north of Victoria state, a statement said.

"The investigation is in its initial stages. Two people are assisting police with inquiries."

Asked whether the arrests involved arson or looting, which has also been reported in the aftermath of the fires, a police spokeswoman told AFP she could provide no further details.

At least 181 people died as a swarm of wildfires raced across the southeast state of Victoria during a heatwave last weekend and the toll is expected to rise as more bodies are found in charred homes and villages.

Victoria's Police Commissioner Christine Nixon said earlier today that at least one case of arson had been confirmed and others were suspected.

"We're sure that the fire in Churchill was deliberately lit," Nixon said, referring to a fire in which 21 people died.