Troops seize jungle hideout after clashes with pro-Daesh fighters in Philippines

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Security forces have staged a relentless campaign against the militants in recent months. (File/AFP)
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Security forces have staged a relentless campaign against the militants in recent months. (File/AFP)
Updated 25 January 2019
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Troops seize jungle hideout after clashes with pro-Daesh fighters in Philippines

  • Three members of the radical Maute group were killed and three soldiers wounded in the attack
  • Fighting broke out a few days after the historic plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which offers greater autonomy to the Philippines’ Muslim minority

MANILA: Government security forces supported by artillery and helicopters have seized a pro-Daesh militant stronghold in the southern Philippines following a series of running skirmishes with extremists.
Three members of the radical Maute group were killed and three soldiers wounded in the attack, an army spokesman said on Friday.
Fighting broke out a few days after the historic plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which offers greater autonomy to the Philippines’ Muslim minority.
Col. Romeo Brawner, Jr., the 103rd Infantry Brigade commander, said fighting erupted between troops and remnants of the Maute group early on Thursday in Sultan Dumalondong, Lanao del Sur, about 50 km from Marawi City.
The city was the site of the bloody five-month siege by militants in 2017.
Residents in nearby communities were told to stay calm and remain indoors during more than 10 hours of skirmishing.
The attack on Thursday followed a relentless campaign by security forces against the militants in recent months.
“We acted on the information reported by residents and local chief executives,” the army said in a statement.
“The enemy was taken by surprise, but we met fierce resistance as soon as we hit their final defensive lines,” the statement read.
Brawner said the group had been hiding in the Lanao del Sur hinterland where they were familiar with the terrain.
“Despite the enemy’s knowledge of the terrain, accurate supporting fire allowed our troops to gain ground and penetrate their defensive lines,” said Brawner.
Fire support by artillery and helicopters forced the extremists to retreat into their bunkers.
The militant stronghold made use of trenches and fortified bunkers, and a training camp was found close to the terrorists’ defensive lines.
“After massive information dissemination, people are aware of the destruction wrought by these violent extremists,” Brawner said. “People now willingly give out information to government troops to rid their communities of terrorists.”
“With the support we are receiving from the populace, we are liberating communities from the influence of the Maute group,” he added.
Brawner said the militants were no longer capable of mounting large-scale attacks, but could still stage “spoiling attacks” to make their presence felt.
“We expect the terrorist group to attack indiscriminately, targeting Muslim and Christian communities alike,” he said.
Sustained military operations will be a cornerstone in the government’s campaign against militants.
“We will weaken their will to fight — either through lethal or non-lethal means,” Brawner said.


Fake German heiress convicted of bilking banks, businesses

Updated 6 sec ago
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Fake German heiress convicted of bilking banks, businesses

  • Sorokin claimed her father was diplomat and went to extraordinary lengths to have others pay her way
  • She also faces deportation to Germany because authorities say she overstayed her visa
NEW YORK: A New York jury on Thursday convicted an extravagant socialite who bankrolled an implausibly lavish lifestyle with tens of thousands of dollars she swindled from banks, hotels and friends who believed she was a wealthy German heiress.
The Manhattan jury found Anna Sorokin guilty of four counts of theft of services, three counts of grand larceny and one count of attempted grand larceny following a monthlong trial that attracted international attention. She was acquitted of one count of grand larceny and one count of attempted grand larceny. She is to be sentenced May 9.
Sorokin also faces deportation to Germany because authorities say she overstayed her visa.
Using the name Anna Delvey, Sorokin deceived friends and financial institutions into believing she had a fortune of about $67 million (60 million euros) overseas that would cover her high-end clothing, luxury hotel stays and trans-Atlantic travel.
She claimed her father was diplomat or an oil baron and went to extraordinary lengths to have others pay her way. Prosecutors said she promised one friend an all-expenses paid trip to Morocco but then stuck her with the $62,000 bill.
She also forged financial records in an application for a $22 million loan to fund a private arts club she wanted to build, complete with exhibitions, installations and pop-up shops, prosecutors said. She was denied the loan but persuaded one bank to lend her $100,000 she failed to repay.
Her defense attorney, Todd Spodek, insisted Sorokin planned to settle her six-figure debts and was merely “buying time.”