Philippines declares victory over Daesh in Marawi

Philippine Army scout rangers who participated in anti-terrorism training attends a graduation ceremony to coincide with the end of fighting against Daesh supporters in the southern Philippines, in Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao on October 23, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 24 October 2017
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Philippines declares victory over Daesh in Marawi

CLARK FIELD: After five months of intense fighting between Philippine government security forces and the Daesh-backed Islamist Maute group in Marawi City, the government has declared victory.
Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana made the announcement at the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers Meeting, which opened here on Monday.
Ministers from the 10 ASEAN member nations — the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Brunei Darussalam — arranged a special meeting to discuss ongoing and future coordinated approaches to the growing security threats in Southeast Asia, particularly terrorism and violent extremism.
Lorenza announced the Philippine government’s victory in Marawi in a press conference, saying that combat operations in the country’s only Islamic city had been terminated, as the remaining Maute fighters had been killed.
“There are no more militants inside Marawi City,” Lorenzana said, confirming what President Rodrigo R. Duterte said last week when he declared the city free from terrorists.
Lorenzana claimed the victory meant the government had “defeated terrorism in the Philippines.”
“In crushing the most serious attempt thus far to export violent extremism and radicalism to the Philippines and the region, we have contributed to preventing its spread in Asia and (helped) to maintain global peace, stability, and security,” he said.
“While we (acknowledge) that these tactical and strategic gains will not annihilate the ideology completely, we declare that this achievement is a clear manifestation of how our regional cooperation can lead to a decisive advance against the proliferation of terrorism in this part of the world,” Lorenzana continued.
The defense secretary expressed his gratitude for the help extended by the US, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and Singapore, and China as government forces battled the militant forces.
Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis praised the Philippines for its victory in Marawi.
Mattis is in the Philippines for the ADMM-Plus — a platform for ASEAN defense chiefs to engage their counterparts from Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, and the US.
“One of the first things I’m going to do is commend the Philippine military for liberating Marawi from the terrorists,” Mattis said in a statement released by the Pentagon. “It was a very tough fight, and I think the Philippine military sent a very strong message to the terrorists.”
Mattis added that his attendance was an opportunity to recognize ASEAN for 50 years of promoting peace and stability in Southeast Asia, and 40 years of cooperation with America.
“They have done a very good job of it,” he said.
Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne, who is also attending ADMM-Plus, met the crews of the two Australian Defense Force (ADF) AP-3C Orion aircraft which provided aerial surveillance support to the Philippine government’s successful operations against the Maute group in Marawi.
“We ask a lot of the men and women of the ADF and they answer without question and I particularly want to acknowledge that today,” she said. “I want to acknowledge the very real contribution that our ability to work with the government of the Philippines and the armed forces of the Philippines makes in terms of effective regional engagement.
“Australia and the Philippines have an extremely long, shared regional and military history. And our engagement in surveillance activity here has been an extension of that,” she continued. “An important extension of that.”


Man accused of killing tourist appears in New Zealand court

A police officer investigating the murder of British tourist Grace Millane stands at a crime scene along a section of Scenic Drive in the Waitakere Ranges outside Auckland, New Zealand, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. (AP)
Updated 35 min 14 sec ago
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Man accused of killing tourist appears in New Zealand court

  • Before she vanished, Millane had been staying at a backpacker hostel in Auckland and left some of her belongings there

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: A man accused of killing 22-year-old British tourist Grace Millane made his first appearance in a New Zealand court Monday.
The 26-year-old man stared at the ground while a judge addressed him during the brief appearance at the Auckland District Court. The man has not yet entered a plea on murder charges and the court has temporarily blocked his name from being published.
Millane’s father, David Millane, traveled to New Zealand last week after his daughter vanished, and Judge Evangelos Thomas addressed him and other family members.
“I don’t know what to say to you at this time, but your grief must be desperate,” he said, according to television station Three. “We all hope justice will be fair and swift and ultimately bring you some peace.”
The case has riveted people both in Britain and New Zealand.
Described by her father as fun-loving and family-oriented, Millane had been traveling in New Zealand as part of a planned yearlong trip abroad that began in Peru. She went missing Dec. 1 and failed to get in touch with her family on her birthday the next day, or on the days that followed, which alarmed them.
Before she vanished, Millane had been staying at a backpacker hostel in Auckland and left some of her belongings there. Detective Inspector Scott Beard said she met a man for a couple of hours in the evening before surveillance cameras showed them entering the CityLife hotel at about 9:40 p.m.
A week after Millane disappeared, police detained a man for questioning and later charged him with murder.
On Sunday, police found a body they believe is that of Millane in a forested area about 10 meters (33 feet) from the side of the road in the Waitakere Ranges near Auckland. Police believe Millane’s body was taken to the area in a rental car that was later left in the town of Taupo.
The suspect’s lawyer, Ian Brookie, applied on Monday for name suppression on the basis his client needed it for a fair trial, an argument that Judge Thomas rejected on the basis of open justice. Brookie appealed, triggering the man’s name to be temporarily suppressed.
The man is scheduled to make his next court appearance Jan. 23.