Philippines arrests suspected pro-Daesh militant over Marawi siege

Above, weapons and Daesh flags recovered from militants during an encounter with Philippine military forces in Sultan Kudarat on the southern island of Mindanao in this November 26, 2015 photo. Hundreds of Daesh gunmen seized Marawi in May last year, triggering a five-month battle that claimed more than 1,100 lives. (AFP)
Updated 05 March 2018
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Philippines arrests suspected pro-Daesh militant over Marawi siege

MANILA: Philippine police announced on Monday the arrest of a suspected pro-Daesh militant accused of killing civilians in last year’s deadly siege of the southern city of Marawi.
Hundreds of gunmen flying black Daesh flags seized Marawi in May last year, triggering a five-month battle that claimed more than 1,100 lives, in a bid to establish a caliphate in the largely Catholic country.
Nasser Lomondot was arrested on Saturday in Manila, months after he fled the fighting in Marawi.
“He participated in the killing of innocent civilians and committed violence against female and child hostages,” regional military spokesman Major Ronald Suscano told reporters.
As government forces battled to wrest back control of Marawi, Lomondot directed a diversionary attack by pro-Daesh gunmen in the neighboring town of Marantao, Suscano added.
“He was one of the key planners of the attack in Marantao town ... while the firefight was still ongoing” in Marawi, Suscano said.
Lomondot was arrested with a second pro-Daesh suspect, Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde said in a statement.
The Philippine military warned last month that the remaining militants from Marawi have mustered a force of about 200 gunmen to launch a second attempt to put up a caliphate in the country’s south.


Nobel laureates urge world to help victims of rape in conflict

Murad implored the global community to help free hundreds of women and girls still held by Daesh. (AFP)
Updated 14 min 15 sec ago
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Nobel laureates urge world to help victims of rape in conflict

  • Global community must protect Yazidis, says Nadia Murad
  • In an emotional ceremony, which saw the laureates cheered and given standing ovations, Mukwege and Murad called on the world to do more

OSLO: Nobel laureates Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad have called on the world to protect victims of wartime sexual violence in their Peace Prize acceptance speeches on Monday, slamming indifference to the plight of women and children in conflict.

Congolese gynecologist Mukwege, whose work has made him a global expert on rape in conflict, and Yazidi activist Murad, a survivor of Daesh sexual slavery, both said victims were sometimes valued less than commercial interests.

In an emotional ceremony, which saw the laureates cheered and given standing ovations, Mukwege and Murad called on the world to do more.

“If there is a war to be waged, it is the war against the indifference which is eating away at our societies,” Mukwege said at the ceremony in Oslo.

His Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s war-torn east has treated the wounds of tens of thousands of women and children for sexual assaults that have become a “new reality” in the country.

He said the violence “shames our common humanity.”

In her speech, Murad implored the global community to help free hundreds of women and girls still held by Daesh, saying the world must protect her people and other vulnerable communities.

“It is my view that all victims deserve a safe haven until justice is done for them,” she said, pausing briefly, seemingly overcome with emotion.

Nobel committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said the pair had received the Peace Prize “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.” She described them as “two of the strongest voices in the world today.”

In a somber ceremony in Oslo City Hall, both smiled as they received the Peace Prize gold medal, diploma and the 9 million Swedish Krona ($1 million), which they will share.

Mukwege lay much of the blame for the horrific violence unleashed on civilians on those in power in his troubled country.

“For 20 years now, day after day, at Panzi Hospital, I have seen the harrowing consequences of the country’s gross mismanagement,” said the doctor, a critic of DR Congo President Joseph Kabila, who is set to be replaced in elections this month.

“Babies, girls, young women, mothers, grandmothers, and also men and boys, cruelly raped, often publicly and collectively.”

Mukwege said the trade in the country’s abundant natural resources helped fuel the violence while profits “end up in the pockets of a predatory oligarchy.”

“We love nice cars, jewelry and gadgets. I have a smartphone myself. These items contain minerals found in our country, often mined in inhuman conditions by young children, victims of intimidation and sexual violence,” he said.

“It’s not just perpetrators of violence who are responsible for their crimes, it is also those who choose to look the other way.”

He called for a global fund to provide reparation for victims and economic and political sanctions for those behind the violence.

Murad survived the horrors of captivity under the Daesh group in Iraq and Syria where they targeted her Kurdish-speaking community.

Older women and men faced summary execution during the Daesh assault, which the UN has described as a possible genocide.

Captured in 2014, Murad suffered beatings and gang-rape before she was able to escape.

In her Nobel acceptance address Monday, Murad said more than 6,500 women and girls from her community had been kidnapped, raped and traded “in the 21st century, in the age of globalization and human rights.”

The fate of some 3,000 women and girls is still unknown.

“Young girls at the prime of life are sold, bought, held captive and raped every day. It is inconceivable that the conscience of the leaders of 195 countries around the world is not mobilized to liberate these girls,” she said.

“What if they were a commercial deal, an oil field or a shipment of weapons? Most certainly, no efforts would be spared to liberate them.”

Murad, whose mother and six of her brothers were killed, said on Sunday that “steps toward justice” had given her some hope.

A UN team authorized to investigate the massacre of the Yazidi minority is due to finally start fieldwork in Iraq next year.

Murad has been supported in her campaign for justice for Yazidis by Lebanese-British lawyer and rights activist Amal Clooney, who was in the audience in Oslo.

No terrorist has yet faced trial over the atrocities against the Yazidis.

Murad said she was thankful for the Peace prize, but added: “The fact remains that the only prize in the world that can restore our dignity is justice and the prosecution of criminals.”