Philippines probes deadly police shooting of soldiers

Philippines’ defense chief Delfin Lorenzana, above, said the shootings were ‘a very unfortunate incident.’ (AFP file photo)
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Updated 02 July 2020

Philippines probes deadly police shooting of soldiers

  • Plainclothes soldiers were in pursuit of ‘bomb makers and suicide bombers’ from the Abu Sayyaf militant group

MANILA: Philippine authorities are investigating the deaths of four soldiers shot by police in the country’s restive south, with the defense minister vowing Thursday to “get to the bottom” of the incident.
The plainclothes soldiers were in pursuit of “bomb makers and suicide bombers” from the Abu Sayyaf militant group when they were attacked by police in the Muslim-majority province of Sulu on Monday, the army has said.
Army chief Gilbert Gapay has accused the nine officers involved of murdering the men, while Philippine National Police has described the shooting as a “misencounter.”
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the shootings were “a very unfortunate incident,” adding that the dead soldiers “were just doing their jobs.”
“We don’t want this to escalate. We will get to the bottom of this,” he said.
The country’s National Bureau of Investigation was probing the incident, and Lorenzana said the findings should be released soon.
The army has accused the police of firing on the soldiers even after they identified themselves as members of the military.
The officers have been detained while the investigation is under way, said Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano.
President Rodrigo Duterte will visit police and military commanders in the south, his spokesman Harry Roque said, without specifying when.
Abu Sayyaf is based in the south and has engaged in bombings as well as kidnappings of Western tourists and missionaries for ransom since the early 1990s.
They also have ties to Daesh militants seeking to set up a caliphate in Southeast Asia.


France tells Turkey it won’t give in to ‘intimidation attempts’

Updated 27 min 23 sec ago

France tells Turkey it won’t give in to ‘intimidation attempts’

  • Government spokesman says France 'will never renounce its principles and values'
  • Emmanuel Macron has vowed to crack down on extremism after the killing and beheading of a school teacher

PARIS: France will continue its fight against Islamic extremism despite criticism from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and will not give in to “destabilization and intimidation attempts,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Wednesday.
France “will never renounce its principles and values,” Attal said after a cabinet meeting, underscoring “a strong European unity” behind its stance against Islamic violence after the beheading of a French teacher on October 16.
The history teacher, Samuel Paty, was killed while walking home from his school in a Paris suburb by an 18-year-old after a social media campaign criticized him for showing students cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during a lesson on free speech.
His killing prompted an outpouring of anger in France, which has faced a wave of jihadist attacks since the January 2015 massacre of 12 people at the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
The paper, which had drawn the ire of Muslims worldwide after publishing cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad, republished the images last month to mark the opening of a trial for suspected accomplices in the Charlie Hebdo attack.
French President Emmanuel Macron mounted a staunch defense of France’s secular tradition after Paty’s killing, and vowed to crack down on Islamic radicalism, in particular by closing mosques suspected of fomenting extremist ideas.
That prompted Erdogan to accuse Macron of unfairly targeting France’s Muslim community, and fueled the latest diplomatic spat between the two NATO allies in recent months.
Charlie Hebdo further inflamed Turkish critics Wednesday after it ran a front-page cartoon of Erdogan that portrayed him drinking a beer in his underwear, while lifting the skirt of a woman wearing a hijab to reveal her naked bottom.
“Ooh, the prophet!” the character says in a speech bubble, while the title proclaims “Erdogan: in private, he’s very funny.”