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Philippines - Increase in US Troops Not Permanent




News Analysis: Bombings could impact on peace process with Moro rebels




Security forces in Basilan raided a hideout of Abu Sayyaf leader Nurhassan Jamiri, killing seven militants; one soldier was killed and eight more wounded in the operation. During the firefight, Jamiri led militants toward a Moro Islamic Liberation Front stronghold, at which point the security forces retreated to avoid clashing with MILF. Defense Secretary Gazmin and Foreign Secretary del Rosario told Philippine congressional leaders about the government's plans to begin negotiations with the US on the implementation of "our agreed policy of increased rotational presence" of US troops.




A powerful bomb exploded in Cotabato city as a city administrator's bullet-proof SUV was passing by, killing at least six people, including the official's two bodyguards and a policeman, and injuring 25 more. Last week another bombing on Mindanao killed eight people and injured dozens more. Islamist militants are suspected in the blasts. The US, Canada, and Australia warned their citizens in July against traveling to Cotabato and two other southern cities, due to new terror threats.




A bombing at a restaurant filled with doctors attending a convention killed six people and wounded at least 48 more in the port city of Cagayan de Oro on the island of Mindanao, where Islamists have been waging an insurgency for decades. The attack occurred shortly after Islamist rebels accused the government of failing to comply with a 1996 peace accord and issued new threats.




The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed a "wealth-sharing" deal that gives the militant Islamist group a 75 percent share of earnings from natural resources and metallic minerals in a region to be set aside for the Muslim minority in southern Mindanao; in addition, the government and the MILF will split energy earnings equally. A final peace deal with the 12,000-strong MILF remains to be worked out; still to be decided is how the rebels will disarm, and the extent of the proposed autonomous region, which is believed to contain hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of gold, copper, and other mineral reserves.




The US warned its citizens against traveling to Mindanao or the Sulu archipelago because of "continuing threats ... due to terrorist and insurgent activities." Earlier this week US diplomatic staff were told not to travel to Davao, Cotabato, or Zamboanga in Mindanao. Australia and Canada also warned of new threats of terrorism and kidnapping in the southern Philippines.




The military is reviving plans to build new air and naval bases at Subic Bay that would allow greater US access and use. US forces helping the Philippines counter al Qaeda-linked insurgents in the south have shared several Philippine bases since 2002, and US naval ship visits to Subic have increased over the past few years.




Vowing to defend Philippine territory against all challenges, President Benigno Aquino III said that $1.74 billion will be spent over the next five years to modernize the military. Abu Sayyaf militants released a Filipino-Chinese businessman who was kidnapped on April 7; the group is still holding at least five captives, including four foreign men and the wife of a Filipino military officer.




Official: Clash that killed 14 Filipino marines and militants part of new US-backed offensive




Seven Marines and five Abu Sayyaf fighters were killed during a clash on the island of Sulu; nine Marines were also wounded. The troops were tracking a group of Abu Sayyaf fighters behind kidnappings in the area.




Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario recommended that the Philippines pull its 342 troops out of the UN peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights, following the recent abduction of four troops by the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, a Syrian rebel group that abducted 24 Filipino troops in March. He said the rebels are using the four troops as human shields.




Some 100 Philippine troops raided a camp of 30 Islamist militants near Tipo-tipo on Basilan, killing eight. Authorities said wanted Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon was wounded but managed to escape. He was meeting with two Indonesians from Jemaah Islamiah and another Abu Sayyaf leader prior to the assault. The militants were said to be planning to disrupt elections; bomb materials and weapons parts were found. The government said US bases would return to the Philippines only in the event of "extreme emergency."




Missile defence systems deployed to counter North Korea threats: interactive




Some 8,000 US and Philippine troops began a joint two-week military drill, simulating battles and disaster responses. The Foreign Secretary suggested that the US may be allowed a great military presence in the Philippines given increasing regional threats.




Militants from the al Qaeda-linked terror group Abu Sayyaf released Australian hostage Warren Richard Rodwell, whom they had held captive after kidnapping him in December 2011. A Philippine security official said Rodwell was freed after a ransom was paid.




Drone base in Niger gives US a strategic foothold in West Africa




Borneo violence spirals into crisis for Malaysia, Philippines




No clear signs in southern Thailand




Philippine leader criticises gunmen in Malaysia