Surrender or die: Filipino troops battling final 30 Daesh-linked gunmen

Soldiers stand on guard and look at damaged buildings and houses after government troops cleared the area from pro-Daesh militant groups inside the war-torn area in Saduc proper, Marawi city, southern Philippines Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 22 October 2017
0

Surrender or die: Filipino troops battling final 30 Daesh-linked gunmen

MANILA: Philippine troops on Sunday were battling a final group of about 30 pro-Daesh group militants who were surrounded in one building with all their hostages gone as a nearly five-month siege neared its end in southern Marawi city, a military official said.
Army Col. Romeo Brawner said troops were aiming to end the crisis before midnight Sunday. He said the remaining gunmen, who include some Indonesian and Malaysian fighters, have the option of surrendering, or they can either be captured or killed.
“Our government forces will try to do everything to finish the firefight today,” Brawner said in a news conference in Marawi. He said the battle area centered in a two-story building near Lake Lanao where the firefight continued to rage at noon.
“It’s either they all get killed, because they’re determined to die inside, or we capture them or they surrender,” he said.
A gradual withdrawal of military forces was underway with the easing of the fighting, which has left at least 1,131 people dead, including 919 militants and 165 soldiers and policemen. Troops continued to ask the gunmen, who are leaderless and running low on ammunition, to surrender by using loudspeakers, Brawner said.
Military chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Año said some of the remaining militants were “suicidal.”
Hundreds of militants, many waving Daesh group-style black flags, launched the siege on May 23 in Marawi, a bastion of Islamic faith in the south of the largely Roman Catholic Philippines, by seizing the lakeside city’s central business district and outlying communities. They ransacked banks and shops, including gun stores, looted houses and smashed statues in a Roman Catholic cathedral, according to the military.
At least 1,780 of the hostages seized by the militants, including a Roman Catholic priest, were rescued, and a final group of 20 captives were freed overnight, Brawner said. That left the gunmen with none of the hostages they had used as human shields to slow the military advance for months.
The disastrous uprising, which has displaced hundreds of thousands of Marawi residents, erupted as the Philippines was hosting annual summit meetings of Southeast Asian nations and their Asian and Western counterparts, including the US and Australia. The two governments have deployed surveillance aircraft and drones to help Filipino troops rout the Marawi militants.
The siege has sparked fears that the Daesh group may gain a foothold in Southeast Asia by influencing and providing funds to local militants as it suffers battle defeats in Syria and Iraq.
Last Monday, troops killed the final two surviving leaders of the siege, including Isnilon Hapilon, who is listed among the FBI’s most-wanted terror suspects in the world, and Omarkhayam Maute. Following their deaths, President Rodrigo Duterte traveled near the main scene of battle and declared Marawi had been essentially liberated from terrorist influence, although skirmishes with a few dozen gunmen continued.
DNA tests done in the US requested by the Philippine military have confirmed the death of Hapilon, according to the US Embassy in Manila. Washington has offered a bounty of up to $5 million for Hapilon, who had been blamed for kidnappings for ransom of American nationals and other terrorist attacks.
Among the foreign militants believed to be with the remaining gunmen in Marawi were Malaysian militant Amin Baco and an Indonesian known only as Qayyim. Both have plotted attacks and provided combat training to local militants for years but have eluded capture in the south.


Thousands rally against leading, far-right Brazil candidate

A woman protests against presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday, October 20, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 8 min 25 sec ago
0

Thousands rally against leading, far-right Brazil candidate

  • The left-leaning party governed Brazil between 2003 and 2016, and has been dogged by the massive “Carwash” corruption investigation

SAO PAULO: Thousands of people took to the streets in Brazil Saturday to protest the candidacy of presidential front-runner Jair Bolsonaro, shouting “Not him!” which has become the rallying cry against the far-right former army captain.
In Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and 24 other cities, large crowds filled avenues and squares a week before the Oct. 28 second-round vote polls suggest Bolsonaro is likely to win.
Bolsonaro, who has angered many Brazilians by praising the country’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship and making comments offensive to gays, women and blacks, won the first round of voting on Oct. 7, getting 46 percent against 29 for Fernando Haddad of the Workers’ Party.
In front of the Sao Paulo Art Museum, people beat drums and waved gay pride flags as they denounced Bolsonaro. Many carried cardboard signs bearing Haddad’s name and photo.
Tiago Silva, a 27-year-old philosophy teacher, said Bolsonaro “represents the fascism, intolerance and violence we are seeing in Europe and in the United States.”
“It will be a disaster if he wins — and it looks like he will,” he added.
Vinicius Bento, a 27-year-old lawyer, said voting for Haddad is “the only way to stop Bolsonaro and his racist, misogynist and fascists views from reaching the presidency.”
“We have to get Haddad elected,” he said, acknowledging that he didn’t vote for him in the first round because he’d “lost faith” in the Workers’ Party as a result of the corruption scandals it has been involved with. The left-leaning party governed Brazil between 2003 and 2016, and has been dogged by the massive “Carwash” corruption investigation.
Bolsonaro has appealed to many Brazilians weary of crime and corruption by promising a violent crackdown on drug gangs and other criminals, and by highlighting the corruption that took place under past Workers’ Party administrations. He has also promised a return to “traditional Brazilian values.”
Haddad, the hand-picked successor to jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has promised to bring back the boom times Brazil experienced under da Silva, fight inequality, invest more in education and improve state services.