Gunmen kidnaps six forest workers in Philippines

Updated 01 June 2014

Gunmen kidnaps six forest workers in Philippines

MANILA: Gunmen have kidnapped six forestry surveyors in the violence-stricken southern Philippines, the military said Sunday, the latest in a number of attacks against environmental workers there in recent years.
The six were en route to study a government forestry program in a remote mountainous area of Compostela Valley on the island of Mindanao when they were snatched Friday, the military said.
No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, although various armed groups are known to operate in the area, including communist guerrillas and private security personnel who work for illegal loggers and miners. “Our concern is the safe release of the civilians,” regional military spokesman Lt. Gen. Rainier Cruz said, as he deployed troops to help local police track down the victims, who work for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Filipino nabbed in bomb that killed 2 US soldiers
Philippine police say they have captured a suspected Muslim rebel bomber believed to be involved in a 2009 land mine attack that killed two US Special Forces soldiers and a Filipino marine in a volatile southern province.
Senior Superintendent Abraham Orbita, Sulu provincial police chief, says Miraji Bairulla did not resist when government forces served a warrant for his arrest Sunday in Indanan town. Bairullah, who uses the rebel name “Mahang,” is a bomb expert of the rebel group the Moro National Liberation Front, according to Orbita.
Orbita says the suspect was among militants who placed a land mine that hit a passing Humvee and killed two U.S. soldiers and a Filipino marine in Indanan on Sept. 29, 2009, in Sulu, where Muslim militant groups are active.

British minister demands Germany lifts block on Saudi arms sales

Updated 27 min 54 sec ago

British minister demands Germany lifts block on Saudi arms sales

  • Jeremy Hunt says Berlin’s halt in arms sales to KSA will hit UK defense industry
  • Requests major European defense projects like the Eurofighter be removed from embargo

LONDON: Britain’s top diplomat has demanded that Germany lifts its effective block on major European arms sales to Saudi Arabia, saying the move stands to hurt the UK’s defense industry.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt wrote to Heiko Maas, his German counterpart, requesting that Berlin exclude the likes of the Euroflighter Typhoon and the Tornado fighter jet from its embargo.

Parts of those jets are made in Germany, meaning that their sale to Saudi Arabia is essentially blocked even though the deals might be struck by defense companies headquartered elsewhere.

Hunt expressed concern about the effect of Germany’s halt in exports to Saudi Arabia on both the British and wider European defense industry, Der Spiegel reported on Tuesday.

“I am very concerned about the impact of the German government’s decision on the British and European defense industry and the consequences for Europe’s ability to fulfil its NATO commitments,” Hunt wrote in the letter to Maas, according to Der Spiegel.

“It is imperative that you immediately remove major European defense projects such as the Eurofighter and the Tornado from the arms embargo,” he wrote in the letter dated Feb. 7. Otherwise, Berlin risks “a loss of confidence in the credibility of Germany as a partner.”

Hunt said British defense firms would not be able to fulfil several contracts with Saudi Arabia such as the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Eurofighter is built by a consortium of four founding countries — Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain — and is represented by France’s Airbus, Britain’s BAE Systems and Italy’s Leonardo.

An official from Airbus last week said Germany’s halt in exports to Saudi Arabia is preventing Britain from completing the sale of 48 Eurofighter Typhoons to Riyadh, and has delayed potential sales of other weapons.

Airbus Defense and Space chief Dirk Hoke told Reuters that uncertainty about the issue had undermined Germany’s credibility, and could threaten future Franco-German defense projects.

“This is a serious problem,” Hoke was reported as saying. “We’re facing constraints in many projects, and many problems have been put on ice.”

Germany imposed the embargo in November, saying it would reject future export licenses to Saudi Arabia after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It has not formally banned previously approved deals, which would entitle companies to compensation, but has urged industry to refrain from such shipments for now, Reuters reported.