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.


Libyan navy says it intercepted 91 Europe-bound migrants

Updated 16 June 2019
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Libyan navy says it intercepted 91 Europe-bound migrants

  • Libya became a major conduit for African migrants and refugees fleeing to Europe
  • An official said the migrants were given humanitarian and medical aid and then taken to a refugee camp in Tripoli

CAIRO: Libya’s coast guard says it has intercepted a rubber vessel carrying 91 Europe-bound migrants, including women and children, off the country’s Mediterranean coast.
Spokesman Ayoub Gassim said Sunday that three women and two children were among the African migrants intercepted a day earlier off the coast of the western town of Garaboli, 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of the capital, Tripoli.
He says the migrants were given humanitarian and medical aid and then taken to a refugee camp in Tripoli.
Libya became a major conduit for African migrants and refugees fleeing to Europe after the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi.
Libyan authorities have stepped up efforts to stem the flow of migrants, with European assistance.