Philippines

Philippine troops clash with communist rebels; one soldier hurt

PhilippinesManila - One Philippine soldier was wounded in a clash with communist rebels while providing security for US troops building a farm road in an eastern province, a military spokesman said Thursday.

The firefight erupted Wednesday when troops encountered the guerrillas while on patrol in Barcelona town in Sorsogon province, 390 kilometres south-east of Manila.

Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres said the troops were part of forces providing security for US soldiers constructing a one-kilometre farm road in nearby Juban town at the time of the clash.

Troops clash with Muslim militants holding Red Cross hostage

Troops clash with Muslim militants holding Red Cross hostage Manila  - Government troops clashed with Muslim militants holding captive an Italian Red Cross worker on a southern Philippine island, a military spokesman said Thursday.

Brigadier General Gaudencio Rosales said the fighting erupted Wednesday when Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebels tried to break out of a cordon set up by government forces in Talipao town on Jolo island, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila.

Convicted German paedophile arrested in the Philippines

Convicted German paedophile arrested in the PhilippinesManila - A German man convicted of raping a 5-year-old girl in his country has been arrested in the Philippines, a senior immigration official said Wednesday.

Immigration bureau chief Commissioner Marcelino Libanan said Holger Arvid Ingo Becker, 47, was arrested in his rented house in Cavite City, 25 kilometres south of Manila, earlier in the month.

Libanan said Becker, who is the subject of an international warrant, would be deported immediately back to Germany.

Philippine military denies paying ransom for Red Cross hostages

Philippine military denies paying ransom for Red Cross hostagesManila - The Philippine military denied on Wednesday that ransom was paid to secure the release of two of three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) hostages seized by Islamic militants on a southern island.

Brigadier General Gaudencio Pangilinan, a military spokesman, said "no ransom or board-and-lodging fee" was paid for the release of Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba on April 2 and Swiss Andreas Notter on April 17.

Freed Swiss Red Cross hostage leaves for Switzerland

Freed Swiss Red Cross hostage leaves for Switzerland Eds: epa photo 00000401703914, others availableManila  - Former Swiss Red Cross hostage Andreas Notter headed home on Tuesday, four days after he walked free from Muslim militants who held him captive for more than three months on a southern Philippine island.

Notter, 38, left for Hong Kong where he would take a connecting flight to Geneva, bringing along a cane and a coconut shell as reminders from his captivity on Jolo island,
1,000 kilometres south of Manila.

European Commission willing to provide more aid to Myanmar

European Commission willing to provide more aid to MyanmarManila - The European Commission is ready to provide more aid to Myanmar but the hermitic South-East Asian country must open up to dialogue with donors on the needed development assistance, a senior European aid official said Tuesday.

Koos Richelle, director general of the commission's Europe Aid Cooperation, said there has been little progress in providing aid to Myanmar because of the military junta's refusal to discuss development programmes needed by the country.

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