Three dead after Eid Al-Adha gun ambush in Philippines

Filipino Muslims gather to celebrate Eid Al-Adha at the Luneta Park in Manila on August 11, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 13 August 2019
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Three dead after Eid Al-Adha gun ambush in Philippines

  • Toddler, two soldiers killed in attack
  • Military condemn 'deceitful, inhumane act'

MANILA: A toddler and two soldiers were killed in the southern Philippines after gunmen ambushed a village on Eid Al-Adha, the military said Tuesday.

Fighters suspected to belong to the Abu Sayyaf militant group struck on Monday morning in the island province of Sulu as Muslims celebrated Eid. 

An elite army trooper and a government militiaman, identified as PFC Joie Halasan of the 2nd Special Forces Battalion and CAFGU Active Auxiliary (CAA) Aldazier Hassan from the 1st Sulu CAA Company, were reported to have died instantly from multiple wounds.  

Sisters Salma Abdukalim Sahisa, two, and 11-year-old Darna Abdukalim Sahisa were also hit by bullets.

“It was a populated area and the two children were playing on the roadside when the ambush transpired,” said Army Maj. Arvin Encinas, a spokesman for Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom).

The siblings were hospitalized in Jolo, where soldiers were dispatched to donate blood for their operations.

Salma died that afternoon and Darna remains in critical condition.

WestMinCom Commander Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana condemned the gunmen, saying they had perpetrated a “deceitful and inhumane act” that did not represent Islam. 

“We would like to extend our sympathies to the bereaved families. Rest assured all sorts of assistance will be provided,” he said.

Abu Sayyaf is notorious for deadly bombings, ransom kidnappings and beheadings. It has pledged allegiance to Daesh and been blacklisted by Washington and Manila.

Joint Task Force Sulu Commander Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. said the Eid attack was a “desperate move” and accused the group of trying to sow fear among people.

Earlier this year Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the military to crush Abu Sayyaf and other militant groups on the island of Mindanao after twin bombings during a church service in January killed at least 21 and wounded more than 100. 

The Jan. 27 attacks on Jolo were one of the deadliest in recent years in a region plagued by decades of instability.


Melting snowcaps spell water trouble for world’s highest capital

Updated 15 min 1 sec ago

Melting snowcaps spell water trouble for world’s highest capital

LA PAZ, Bolivia: Water resources are running dry in the world’s highest-elevation capital due to the combined effect of the Andean glaciers melting, drought and mismanagement.
But instead of surrendering, the locals in Bolivia’s capital La Paz are finding new ways to tackle the changing climate.
The sky-high metropolitan area’s 2.7 million people have already been jolted by climate change: a severe drought that lasted for several months from 2016 into 2017 was Bolivia’s worst in 25 years, leading to water rationing and widespread protests in several cities.
In a sign of possibly worse to come, the Andean snowcaps — which have been relied on to fill the city’s reservoirs — are disappearing at a rate that has alarmed scientists.
In a gray and misty Valle de las Flores district in the east of the city, people are beginning to adapt to disappearing water resources.
There, Juana and her colleague Maria wash clothes for a living at a municipal wash-house, which is fed by spring water.
Public wash-houses — where the water is free — are becoming more popular, as residents change their habits around water use, getting their laundry done and escaping rising water charges.
“It’s true that there are more people coming here than ever before,” since water started to become more scarce, said Juana, as the women scrubbed and wrung-out garments for a fee of 20 bolivianos, or around $3 per dozen items.
In some neighborhoods, locals have become accustomed to storing rainwater in cisterns, ready for when the dry season comes.
The severe drought that lasted from November 2016 to February 2017 was blamed on the combined effects of the El Nino weather cycle, poor water management and climate change.
Leftist President Evo Morales declared a “state of national emergency” and tens of thousands of people in La Paz faced imposed water rationing for the first time, while surrounding mountains that were once covered in snow turned brown and barren.
The measures were expanded to at least seven other cities, and in the countryside, farmers clashed with miners over the use of aquifers.
As part of a contingency plan, Morales doubled down by embarking on a vast investment program in a bid to ensure future water supplies.
According to recent data from the national water company EPSAS, the government has spent $64.7 million (58.7 million euros) to construct four water reservoirs and supply systems from the lagoons of the surrounding Andean highlands.
The new systems will in part ease reliance on the Inkachaka, Ajunkota and Hampaturi dams that have until now supplied drinking water to around one-third of La Paz’s population.
The drought had left the dams almost completely depleted, resembling open-cast mines, and they took months to recover ample water levels.
Patricia Urquieta, an urban planning specialist at the University Mayor de San Andres, says that despite the hardships it brought, the drought did not lead to an increased collective awareness of the need to manage water resources.
Once water restrictions were lifted “this awareness of the need to preserve water fizzled out,” said Urquieta.
“There has beeen no public policy to raise awareness about water usage, even though reports show that La Paz could end up without water because of the decrease of water in the moutains,” she said.
UNESCO introduced an “Atlas on the retreat of Andean glaciers and the reduction of glacial waters” to map the effects of global warming in 2018.
It said “global warming could cause the loss of 95 percent of the current permafrost in Bolivia by 2050, and 99 percent by 2099.”
A recent study published in the scientific journal Nature, citing analysis of satellite images, reported that “the Andean glaciers are among those that shrink the fastest.”
Between 2000 and 2018, the glaciers lost an average of 23 billion tons of ice a year, according to Nature
“When the glaciers disappear, they will no longer be able to provide water during the dry season,” said Sebastien Hardy, who is studying the local glaciers for the French Institute for Research and Development.
The Chacaltaya glacier — once the world’s highest ski resort — has already disappeared. Scientists said the glacier started to melt in the mid-1980s. By 2009, it had vanished.
The Inkachaka dam, a few miles outside the La Paz, is currently more than half-full, fed by snowfalls during the austral winter.
But the year-round snowcaps on nearby mountains, visible as recently as 30 years ago, no longer exist.