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21 Sep 2018 description
report BenarNews

Mark Navales and Dennis Jay Santos

A landslide buried more than 20 houses and left at least a dozen people dead and scores missing in the central Philippines on Thursday, officials said, as search-and-rescue teams kept digging through an avalanche of mud that hit a northern mining community.

The side of a mountain at a quarry site in the city of Naga in Cebu province gave way after two days of incessant rain, burying houses that belonged to a community of informal settlers, said Supt. Samuel Tadeo, chief of the Philippine Bureau of Fire Protection’s rescue unit.

18 Sep 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Jeoffrey Maitem, Karl Romano and Luis Liwanag

Hundreds of rescuers raced against the clock Monday to dig through 30 feet of mud in efforts to reach as many as 50 miners and their families, who were believed to be trapped by a landslide unleashed by Typhoon Manghkut in a northern Philippine mining town.

As police and volunteers used bare hands, picks and shovels to find the missing people in Itogon town, the overall death toll from the swift-moving typhoon had reached 58 as of Monday, according to the Office of Civil Defense. The death toll is expected to climb.

18 Sep 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Peerzada Mohammad Amin

Separatist groups ordered shopkeepers in Indian Kashmir to close their businesses Monday to protest the killings of at least eight suspected militants by security forces last week, along with five more rebels and a civilian in weekend violence.

On Monday morning, an Indian soldier was fatally shot in the disputed Himalayan region, officials said, as authorities beefed up security across Jammu and Kashmir state to prevent anti-India protests and maintain order.

17 Sep 2018 description
report BenarNews

Jeoffrey Maitem, Karl Romano and Luis Liwanag
Baggao, Philippines

Philippine rescuers reported on Sunday that dozens of gold miners and their families could be trapped by a landslide that buried an old shaft and areas converted into living spaces in Benguet province as the death toll from Typhoon Mangkhut rises.

The typhoon slammed into the Philippines on Saturday bringing winds of 170 kph (105 mph) with gusts of 260 kph (160 mph), killing as many as 60 people and government and municipal officials expect the death toll to grow.

14 Sep 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Jeoffrey Maitem and Karl Romano

Laoag, Philippines

Thousands of people were evacuated to safer ground as the Philippines prepared for the arrival of Typhoon Mangkhut, the most powerful storm expected to hit the archipelago in 2018, officials said Thursday.

Typhoon Mangkhut was tracked earlier in the day approaching the Philippines from the western Pacific at 20 kilometers per hour (12.4 miles per hour) and sustaining winds of up to 205 kph (127.3 mph). It is expected to make landfall in the country’s northern region on Saturday.

13 Sep 2018 description
report BenarNews

Karl Romano and Jeoffrey Maitem

Dagupan and Cotabato, Philippines

With Typhoon Mangkhut packing winds of up to 205 kilometers per hour (127.3 mph) as it churned towards the Philippines on Wednesday, the government placed all disaster relief officials in the north on high alert for potential heavy damage.

Mangkhut, which Philippine officials were describing as a potential super typhoon, was also sustaining gusts of as strong as 255 kph (158.4 mph) and was forecast more than 1,000 km off the town of Guiuan, on the country’s eastern seaboard.

03 Sep 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Mark Navales and Jeoffrey Maitem

At least one person was killed and 15 others were wounded when a home-made bomb exploded in the southern Philippines on Sunday night, in a second fatal attack targeting the same town in less than a week, the military said.

Officials said the bomb was planted near a pawnshop in Isulan town, the capital of Sultan Kudarat province on Mindanao island. Of the wounded, three were in critical condition, Capt. Arvin Encinas, a local spokesman for the army said, adding that fatality had been identified as an 18-year-old boy.

29 Aug 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Jeoffrey Maitem and Mark Navales

At least 36 people were wounded and one person was killed when an improvised bomb exploded during a Tuesday evening fiesta at a town in the troubled southern Philippines, according to a military report from the ground.

The injured included two soldiers who were guarding the local festivities in Isulan town, which is located in Sultan Kudarat province, authorities said.

23 Aug 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Jeoffrey Maitem and Mark Navales

Families of 58 people killed in the nation’s worst political massacre have slammed a court decision allowing one of the principal suspects to temporarily leave jail to attend his daughter’s wedding.

Of the victims killed in 2009, at least 32 were journalists and media workers, in what is believed to be single biggest one-day massacre of press people around the world. Almost 100 people have been jailed and charged with murder, but none have been convicted.

14 Aug 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Ahmad Syamsudin

The death toll from the earthquake that hit Lombok island in central Indonesia has risen to 436, and damage caused by the disaster is estimated at more than 5 trillion rupiah (U.S. $345 million), the country’s disaster management agency said Monday.

North Lombok regency was the hardest hit by the 6.9-magnitude earthquake that struck on Aug. 5, with its residents accounting for more than two-thirds of the casualties, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB).

12 Aug 2018 description
report BenarNews

Jeoffrey Maitem
Cotabato, Philippines

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has begun decommissioning firearms following the historic passage of a law giving the former separatist group autonomy in the south, its chief peace negotiator told BenarNews on Friday.

But the 12,000-member MILF is prepared to help the government against a breakaway unit that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS), said Mohagher Iqbal, the group’s chief peace negotiator.

03 Aug 2018 description
report BenarNews

Mark Navales
Lamitan City, Philippines
2018-08-02

Philippine authorities arrested a 58-year-old Filipino man who allegedly helped a Moroccan Islamic State operative plan and carry out a car bombing that killed 10 people on the southern island of Basilan, the military said Thursday.

The man, indentified as Muslim cleric Jainul Malialim Indamin, was arrested Wednesday at his home in Basilan’s Lamitan City, regional military spokesman Col. Gerry Besana said.

03 Aug 2018 description
report BenarNews

Commentary by Zachary Abuza

On July 31, a man drove up to a checkpoint outside of Lamitan town on Basilan Island in the southern Philippines and detonated a bomb, killing 10 people, including himself. The dead included a soldier, five paramilitaries and three civilians, among them a woman and a child.

We should note that the Armed Forces of the Philippines vigorously denies that the attack was a suicide bombing or that it had any ties to the Islamic State (IS), attributing it to a failed extortion attempt.

02 Aug 2018 description
report BenarNews

Mark Navales and Felipe Villamor, Lamitan, Philippines and Manila

Philippine military and police investigators on Wednesday sifted through a deep crater left by a car bomb that killed 10 people on the southern Philippine island of Basilan, a day after the attack that analysts said was aimed at causing instability amid a resurgent militancy problem.

01 Aug 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Mark Navales and Jeoffrey Maitem

Updated at 12:43 p.m. ET on 2018-07-31

A van exploded at a military checkpoint on the southern Philippines island of Basilan on Tuesday, killing at least 10 people, a military official said, in what the Islamic State claimed was a suicide attack carried out by a Moroccan.

Among those killed were a soldier, four members of a pro-government militia unit and several civilians, including a mother and a child, said Col. Fernando Reyeg, the commander of the military’s Task Force Basilan.

27 Jul 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Karl Romano, Jeoffrey Maitem and Richel V. Umel

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday signed an autonomy law promising wider self-rule for Muslims in the south, his spokesman said.

Under the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), four million Muslim Filipinos will be allowed to form an elected parliament and administration in Islamic-majority areas of southern Mindanao and nearby islands, where five decades of insurgency have left more than 100,000 people dead.

25 Jul 2018 description
report BenarNews

Karl Romano
Dagupan, Philippines

Three days of torrential rains caused by a tropical storm flooded low-lying areas in the northern Philippines, particularly the coastal communities of Bataan province and Dagupan city.

While the country sees at least 20 storms a year – some of them destructive – the latest flooding caught many by surprise. Residents woke up over the weekend to find murky brown water flowing from rivers that had burst their banks seeping into their homes.

04 Jul 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Jeffrey Maitem

Philippine security forces launched fresh assaults against pro-Islamic State militants Tuesday, leaving four enemies dead and two soldiers wounded in heavy clashes on the southern island of Mindanao.

The military offensives took place after militants belonging to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) overran a town hall in Datu Paglas in the southern province of Maguindanao, local military spokesman Capt. Arvin John Encinas told BenarNews. Soldiers repulsed the gunmen, he said.

26 Jun 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Hadi Azmi

Malaysia’s new government will carry on with the country’s role in brokering peace talks between the Thai government and Deep South rebels, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad indicated Monday.

Since 2015 Malaysia, under then-Prime Minister Najib Razak, facilitated several rounds of exploratory peace talks in Kuala Lumpur between the Thai military government and MARA Patani, a panel representing armed insurgent groups in Thailand’s Malay-speaking southern border region.

05 Jun 2018 description
report BenarNews

Commentary by Don Pathan
Yala, Thailand

Last Friday, Thai Army Commander-in-chief Gen. Chalermchai Sitthisart visited security checkpoints in Cho I-rong, a district in Narathiwat province designated as the site of a potential “Safety Zone,” or limited ceasefire, in the insurgency-stricken region known as the Deep South.