7 dead in clash between Abu Sayyaf and Philippine troops

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Updated 10 August 2017
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7 dead in clash between Abu Sayyaf and Philippine troops

MANILA: Officials say Philippine troops attempting to rescue hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf clashed with the militants, leaving two soldiers and five gunmen dead.
Provincial commander Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana says troops encounter around 30 gunmen early Thursday in southern Sulu province. He says soldiers were trying to rescue 23 hostages, including 15 foreigners, amid unconfirmed rumors their captors have threatened to behead some of them.
Sobejana says the militants have separated the hostages among different commanders and it was not clear which captives are being held by the group troops clashed with.
Last month, the military retrieved the decapitated bodies of two Vietnamese crewmen abducted by the Abu Sayyaf last year.


US ending sanction waivers for countries importing Iranian oil, increasing economic pressure on regime: White House

Updated 6 min 22 sec ago
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US ending sanction waivers for countries importing Iranian oil, increasing economic pressure on regime: White House

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said the US would be ending sanction waivers for countries importing Iranian oil, increasing economic pressure on the regime, according to a White House Statement.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was to discuss the move at the State Department Monday morning. The decision means sanctions waivers for five nations, including China and India and U.S. treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey, will not be renewed when they expire on May 2.

The statement said that the US, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had "agreed to take timely action to assure that global demand is met as all Iranian oil is removed from the market."

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said on Monday that he believed global oil markets would be able to handle the US decision to force buyers of Iranian oil to either end imports or face sanctions, despite Monday's surge in oil prices.

"I think that the global oil markets are poised to be able to deal with this," Kevin Hassett said in an interview with CNBC. 

The move comes as the administration toughens its already strict penalties on Iran by trying to choke off all the revenue the country makes from oil sales.

The waivers had been in place since November, when the administration re-imposed sanctions on Iran after President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

They were granted in part to give those countries time to eliminate their purchases of Iranian oil but also to ease any impact on global energy markets with the abrupt removal of Iran's production.

Pompeo says now that production increases elsewhere will make up for the loss of Iranian oil on the market.

(With Agencies)