Seven Philippine former Muslim rebels killed by Daesh-linked gunmen

Moro Islamic Liberation Front soldiers guard the entry of Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat in southern Philippines on September 7, 2019 ahead of a weapons decommissioning ceremony. (AFP)
Updated 05 October 2019

Seven Philippine former Muslim rebels killed by Daesh-linked gunmen

  • The dead were all members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
  • MILF was formerly the country’s largest guerrilla group, which began decommissioning weapons last month

MANILA: Seven former Muslim rebels have been killed in the southern Philippines, military and police authorities said Saturday, in an attack claimed by the Daesh group.
They said the dead were all members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), formerly the country’s largest guerrilla group but which began decommissioning weapons last month under the terms of a 2014 peace treaty.
A pro-Daesh armed group called Dawlah Islamiyah attacked an MILF camp near the town of Shariff Saydona on Friday, sparking fighting lasting several hours, said Lt. Col. Ernesto Gener, commander of a local army battalion.
Daesh claimed responsibility in a communique seen by SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant activity.
The militants said eight MILF members were killed, but local police commander Lt. Col. Arnold Santiago told reporters the authorities were only aware of seven deaths.
Locals said they saw seven bodies being loaded onto a boat at a riverbank in Shariff Saydona, about 900 kilometers south of Manila.
MILF spokesman Von Al-Haq declined to comment.
The MILF peace pact ended decades of Muslim rebellion that had claimed 150,000 lives by government estimates in the Mindanao region, home to the Catholic nation’s large Islamic minority.
The MILF was put in charge of a Muslim autonomous region as part of the peace accord, but Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Daesh is attempting to set up a Southeast Asian stronghold there.
Hundreds of pro- Daesh gunmen seized the Mindanao city of Marawi in May 2017, sparking a five-month battle that left more than 1,000 people dead.
The MILF, sometimes with Philippine military help, has in recent years waged an armed campaign to flush out a number of pro- Daesh groups operating in the swampy farming region around Shariff Saydona.


Britain investigating whether leaked trade papers were hacked — sources

Updated 08 December 2019

Britain investigating whether leaked trade papers were hacked — sources

  • Labour Party says the documents showed Conservatives were plotting to sell off parts of the state-run NHS in trade talks with Trump
  • Johnson has repeatedly denied that claim while Trump said last week he would not be interested in the health service

LONDON: British cybersecurity officials are investigating whether classified UK-US trade documents that were shared online ahead of Thursday’s election were acquired by hacking or were leaked, two sources told Reuters.
Beside the fears that Russia could be meddling in another Western election, the disclosure of the classified documents has raised questions about the security of sensitive discussions between the United States and one of its closest allies.
Britain’s opposition Labour Party seized on the documents, saying they showed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives were plotting to sell off parts of the state-run National Health Service (NHS) in trade talks with US President Donald Trump.
Johnson has repeatedly denied that claim while Trump, who in July said the NHS would be on the table in trade talks, said last week he would not be interested in the health service even if it was offered to him by Britain on a “silver platter.”
Britain’s National Cyber Security Center, part of the GCHQ signals intelligence agency, is helping the government to investigate how the documents got into the public domain. It declined to comment on the investigation.
Two sources told Reuters that one of the lines of inquiry was to determine whether or not the documents had been hacked.
“There are clearly indicators to suggest there is more than carelessness or a disgruntled individual behind this,” said one of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive national security nature of the investigation.
A third source said the investigation was looking at whether the documents were leaked from inside the United Kingdom.
Reuters on Dec. 2 reported that the way the documents were first shared on social media site Reddit and then promoted online closely resembled a disinformation campaign uncovered earlier this year.
Reddit said on Friday that the leak was tied to a previous Russian disinformation campaign.
The Kremlin, which says the West is gripped by anti-Russian hysteria, has denied it meddles in Western democracies.