Taiwanese protest killing by Philippine forces

Updated 13 May 2013
0

Taiwanese protest killing by Philippine forces

TAIPEI, Taiwan: About 200 Taiwanese protested outside the Philippine representative office in Taipei on Monday against the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine coast guard in disputed waters.
Burning Philippine flags and waving banners with messages such as “You can’t kill our people, you can’t insult our country,” the demonstrators demanded that Manila apologize for the incident last Thursday in the Bashi Strait in which Philippine coast guard personnel opened fire on a Taiwanese fishing vessel, killing Hung Shih-cheng, 65. The strait is between Taiwan and the northern Philippines.
With more than 75 police officers in attendance, Monday’s demonstration was peaceful.
President Ma Ying-jeou has given the Philippines until Tuesday to apologize for the incident and provide compensation to the dead man’s family. If the Philippines refuses, Ma has said he will order Taiwanese representatives in Manila back to Taipei and deny Filipinos permission to work in Taiwan.
Approximately 87,000 Filipinos are employed on the island, many in the manufacturing sector, where their English-language skills are seen as a boon to the island’s export-oriented high-tech industries.
The Philippine coast guard has admitted it fired the shots that killed the Taiwanese fisherman, but said it acted in self-defense because the Taiwanese vessel was about to ram its ship.
China has sought to make common cause with Taiwan against Manila, deploring the shooting in harsh rhetoric that threatened to spark another diplomatic tussle between Beijing and the Philippines, a key US ally.
Taiwan and China split during a civil war in 1949 and Beijing continues to claim the island as part of its territory. In recent months it has made repeated attempts to bring Taiwan onto its side in its maritime disputes with Japan and other countries in the region. Taiwan has so far resisted, reflecting its own claims of national sovereignty.
On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei reiterated China’s condemnation of the Philippine coast guard action.
“The spokesmen for the Foreign Ministry and the Taiwan Affairs Office both expressed strong indignation about the Philippines’ killing the fisherman last week,” he said. “We urged the Philippines to investigate the case thoroughly and furnish the details.”
In a related development, Chinese state media reported Monday that naval ships from the country’s East Sea Fleet, which began training drills in the Western Pacific last week, are now planning to sail through the Bashi Strait on their return. The reports did not say when that would be.


Taliban under attack in Badghis province

In this file photo, Afghan National Army soldiers carry out an exercise during a live firing at the Afghan Military Academy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Afghan officials say around 100 soldiers fled their posts and tried to cross into neighboring Turkmenistan during a weeklong battle with the Taliban, in the latest setback for the country's battered security forces. (AP)
Updated 41 min 8 sec ago
0

Taliban under attack in Badghis province

  • Several government troops fleeing the Taliban rampage crossed into neighboring Turkmenistan
  • In a statement, the ministry had said that 50 Taliban combatants had been killed

KABUL: Afghanistan’s government launched a ground and air offensive on Monday to flush out Taliban insurgents from a key area in the northwestern province of Badghis, which is close to the border with Turkmenistan, officials said.

The focal point of the operation was the Bala Murghab district where, a few days ago, the Taliban had captured dozens of government forces in addition to overrunning several parts of the district, which serves as a gateway to the northern areas for the insurgents.

Several government troops fleeing the Taliban rampage crossed into neighboring Turkmenistan, officials said. 

One provincial official and a lawmaker from the province, who requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media, said that Turkmenistan was due to hand over the troops to Afghanistan on Monday.

Sayed Mohmmad Musa, a lawmaker from the province, said that hundreds of government troops have taken part in the operation, which had resulted in the deaths of several of the Taliban’s top commanders.

“Through the operation, the government wants to not only regain the control of the district, but is also trying to free those forces who either had to join the Taliban or were captured by them several days ago,” he said by phone.

“There is heavy fighting there and the government wants to end the Taliban threat because it is a strategic location,” he said.

Meanwhile, spokesmen for the defense and interior ministries did not answer repeated calls for comment about the government’s operation and about the Taliban’s rampage days ago.

In a statement released earlier, the ministry had said that 50 Taliban combatants had been killed.

There were conflicting reports about the number of troops who were captured by the Taliban and those who had fled to Turkmenistan, while the Taliban said 90 soldiers had surrendered.

The development comes amid continuing efforts in recent months by US diplomats and Taliban delegates for finding a peaceful settlement to the war. 

Both the Taliban and government forces, backed by the US military, have stepped up their attacks in a number of areas in the country.

Ahmad Saeedi, an analyst from Badghis, said the remoteness of the province, changes in the leadership of the ministry and confusion among troops about the peace process were some of the factors for the Taliban’s gains in Badghis.

“The time of US and Taliban formally announcing a deal has become closer; this has disheartened some troops in some parts of the country to keep on fighting,” Saeedi told Arab News.

Mirza Mohammed Yarmand, a military analyst and retired general, agreed. He told Arab News: “Unfortunately, the schism and differences among the political leaders of the country have caused disruption and slowness in the conduct of responsibilities of officers in the battlefield.”

He added: “Logistical shortcomings, the amount of attacks conducted by the enemy, (the government’s) failure to transport on time the war casualties from the battle ground and the amount of time officers spend in war zone, are among the reasons for incidents such as Bala Murghab.”

“When there is difference among the leaders that certainly impacts the moral of troops,” he said.