US warns travelers over security at Manila airport

The US warned its citizens that security at the Philippines' main airport does not meet international standards. (File/AFP)
Updated 27 December 2018
0

US warns travelers over security at Manila airport

  • The US said Manila’s airport security was not “consistent” with International Civil Aviation Organization standards
  • The airport topped the list of worst airports on the travel website “The Guide to Sleeping in Airports” from 2011-2013

MANILA: The United States has warned its citizens that security at the Philippines’s main airport does not meet international standards, urging travelers to exercise “increased caution.”
The US Department of Homeland Security issued a travel advisory on Wednesday saying security at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport was not “consistent” with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.
“Exercise increased caution when traveling to or from Ninoy Aquino International Airport,” the US embassy in Manila said on its website citing the advisory.
The advisory was based on an assessment by security experts from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the US homeland security department said without specifying the findings.
Once derided as the world’s worst airport due to leaking toilets and creaking facilities, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport is the primary gateway to the Southeast Asian nation.
A statement on the US homeland security department website said that the agency had directed airlines issuing tickets for travel between the two nations to notify passengers of the assessment.
It added that TSA representatives have been working with the Philippine government “assist airport and transportation authorities in bringing (the Manila airport) up to international security standards.”
Manila International Airport general manager Ed Monreal said on Thursday the Philippines would adhere to international aviation security standards.
“All points raised by the transportation security administration TSA auditors have either been addressed or are in the process of being addressed,” Monreal told reporters, adding that Manila airport was “very, very safe.”
Monreal said TSA auditors were in the Philippines in September and had observed that the Manila airport had some gates with faulty locks while security checkpoints were inconsistent.
He added the Philippines had hired additional guards and would procure x-ray machines to comply with the TSA recommendations.
The Manila airport topped the list of worst airports on the travel website “The Guide to Sleeping in Airports” from 2011-2013, causing the government to make major renovations.
The airport is notorious for flight delays and its security personnel had faced allegations of extorting money from passengers.
In 2013, a gunman opened fire outside the airport, killing four people including a town mayor. Lawmakers then criticized the lack of functioning CCTV cameras in the area.


Taliban under attack in Badghis province

In this file photo, Afghan National Army soldiers carry out an exercise during a live firing at the Afghan Military Academy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Afghan officials say around 100 soldiers fled their posts and tried to cross into neighboring Turkmenistan during a weeklong battle with the Taliban, in the latest setback for the country's battered security forces. (AP)
Updated 18 March 2019
0

Taliban under attack in Badghis province

  • Several government troops fleeing the Taliban rampage crossed into neighboring Turkmenistan
  • In a statement, the ministry had said that 50 Taliban combatants had been killed

KABUL: Afghanistan’s government launched a ground and air offensive on Monday to flush out Taliban insurgents from a key area in the northwestern province of Badghis, which is close to the border with Turkmenistan, officials said.

The focal point of the operation was the Bala Murghab district where, a few days ago, the Taliban had captured dozens of government forces in addition to overrunning several parts of the district, which serves as a gateway to the northern areas for the insurgents.

Several government troops fleeing the Taliban rampage crossed into neighboring Turkmenistan, officials said. 

One provincial official and a lawmaker from the province, who requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media, said that Turkmenistan was due to hand over the troops to Afghanistan on Monday.

Sayed Mohmmad Musa, a lawmaker from the province, said that hundreds of government troops have taken part in the operation, which had resulted in the deaths of several of the Taliban’s top commanders.

“Through the operation, the government wants to not only regain the control of the district, but is also trying to free those forces who either had to join the Taliban or were captured by them several days ago,” he said by phone.

“There is heavy fighting there and the government wants to end the Taliban threat because it is a strategic location,” he said.

Meanwhile, spokesmen for the defense and interior ministries did not answer repeated calls for comment about the government’s operation and about the Taliban’s rampage days ago.

In a statement released earlier, the ministry had said that 50 Taliban combatants had been killed.

There were conflicting reports about the number of troops who were captured by the Taliban and those who had fled to Turkmenistan, while the Taliban said 90 soldiers had surrendered.

The development comes amid continuing efforts in recent months by US diplomats and Taliban delegates for finding a peaceful settlement to the war. 

Both the Taliban and government forces, backed by the US military, have stepped up their attacks in a number of areas in the country.

Ahmad Saeedi, an analyst from Badghis, said the remoteness of the province, changes in the leadership of the ministry and confusion among troops about the peace process were some of the factors for the Taliban’s gains in Badghis.

“The time of US and Taliban formally announcing a deal has become closer; this has disheartened some troops in some parts of the country to keep on fighting,” Saeedi told Arab News.

Mirza Mohammed Yarmand, a military analyst and retired general, agreed. He told Arab News: “Unfortunately, the schism and differences among the political leaders of the country have caused disruption and slowness in the conduct of responsibilities of officers in the battlefield.”

He added: “Logistical shortcomings, the amount of attacks conducted by the enemy, (the government’s) failure to transport on time the war casualties from the battle ground and the amount of time officers spend in war zone, are among the reasons for incidents such as Bala Murghab.”

“When there is difference among the leaders that certainly impacts the moral of troops,” he said.