Abu Sayyaf gunmen kill Indonesian hostage in southern Philippines shootout

The soldiers were scouring the ASG fighters’ withdrawal route, about 300 meters from the encounter site in Barangay Maligaya, Patikul town when they found the fisherman’s body. (File/AFP)
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Updated 01 October 2020

Abu Sayyaf gunmen kill Indonesian hostage in southern Philippines shootout

  • Security forces rescue Filipino-American hostage from abductors in separate clash

MANILA: An Indonesian fisherman held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) for eight months has been killed by his captors in the southern Philippines, the country’s military announced on Wednesday.

Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu commander Brig. Gen. William Gonzales said the victim was one of five Indonesians kidnapped by gunmen from the terror group in waters off Sabah, Malaysia in January and taken to Sulu where they were held captive.

The man’s body was found during a clearing operation following a gunfight between the Army 45th Infantry Battalion (45IB) and ASG in Patikul, Sulu on Tuesday.

“Our troops were in pursuit of the fleeing ASG members following an encounter when they recovered the cadaver of the slain kidnap victim,” said Lt. Col. Ruben Guinolbay, Army 45IB’s commanding officer. One ASG member was also killed during the clash.

The soldiers were scouring the ASG fighters’ withdrawal route, about 300 meters from the encounter site in Barangay Maligaya, Patikul town when they found the fisherman’s body.

Gonzales said, that based on facial recognition, an intelligence officer had identified the recovered body as one of the Indonesian hostages. The military has not yet revealed the name of the victim, as it was awaiting confirmation, however Indonesian authorities identified the dead fisherman as La Baa.

Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr., said it appeared that during the firefight the Indonesian had tried to escape but was shot and killed by his captors.

“While running away, he was fired upon by his abductors. His body was found 300 meters from the encounter site,” Vinluan added.

He also announced the rescue of Rex Triplitt, a 64-year-old Filipino-American businessman kidnapped by suspected ASG gunmen in front of his wife in Zamboanga del Norte on Sept. 16.

Triplitt was rescued around 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, following an encounter with his abductors at Sitio Banalan, Barangay Pisa Itom, Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte.

The military said soldiers had responded to a report of the presence of five fully armed men and one unarmed individual, believed to be Triplitt, in the area. When the troops engaged the armed men in a firefight, Triplitt reportedly found an opportunity to hide and find help. He was eventually safely recovered by government forces.
 


Study finds AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine follows genetic instructions

Updated 22 October 2020

Study finds AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine follows genetic instructions

  • Bristol University virology expert David Matthews: The vaccine is doing everything we expected and that is only good news in our fight against the illness
  • AstraZeneca, which is developing the vaccine with Oxford University researchers, is seen as a frontrunner in the race to produce a vaccine to protect against COVID-19

LONDON: AstraZeneca’s Oxford COVID-19 vaccine accurately follows the genetic instructions programmed into it by its developers to successfully provoke a strong immune response, according to a detailed analysis carried out by independent UK scientists.
“The vaccine is doing everything we expected and that is only good news in our fight against the illness,” said David Matthews, an expert in virology from Bristol University, who led the research.
AstraZeneca, which is developing the vaccine with Oxford University researchers, is seen as a frontrunner in the race to produce a vaccine to protect against COVID-19.
The first data from late-stage large-scale clinical trials being conducted in several countries around the world, including Brazil, the United States and Britain, are expected to be released before the end of the year.
The vaccine — known either as ChAdOx1 or AZD1222 — is made by taking a common cold virus called an adenovirus from chimpanzees and deleting about 20% of the virus’s instructions. This means it is impossible for the vaccine to replicate or cause disease in humans.
The Bristol researchers’ focus was to assess how often and how accurately the vaccine is copying and using the genetic instructions programmed into it by its designers. These instructions detail how to make the spike protein from the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19.
Once the spike protein is made, the immune system reacts to it, training the immune system to identify a real COVID-19 infection.
“This is an important study as we are able to confirm that the genetic instructions underpinning this vaccine ... are correctly followed when they get into a human cell,” Matthews said in a statement about the work.
His team’s research was not peer reviewed by other scientists, but was published as a preprint before review.