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14 dead, 75 injured in southern Philippines suicide bomb attacks

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More violence in the southern Philippines as Islamic militants exploded powerful bombs in the region yesterday. At least 14 soldiers and civilians were killed, and another 75 injured, despite all the additional security – Islamic State militants have made threats in recent weeks.

At least 5 soldiers and 4 civilians were killed as a result of the first attack near a town plaza and a Roman Catholic cathedral. A bomb, attached to a motorcycle exploded around midday near 2 parked army trucks parked in front of retail shops in Jolo, Sulu province in the far south of the archipelago. The area is a predominantly Muslim province, amongst the predominantly Catholic country.

Then a second blast, reportedly from a female suicide bomber, occurred an hour later killing the bomber and a soldier.

A third unexploded bomb was found in a Jolo market. The entire town was then placed in a security lockdown by troops.

Nearly 40 soldiers, police and civilians were wounded in the bomb attacks, military and police officials said. There has been no claim of responsibility for the attacks, but the Philippines military are blamed an Abu Sayyaf militant commander for the sequence of bombs.

Like the southern part of Thailand, southern Philippines have been racked by decades of violence inspired by religious and ethnic tensions.

Military officials reported last week that Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, a Filipino militant affiliated with the Abu Sayyaf, was planning to launch bombings in Sulu using 2 female suicide attackers. Army troops were trying to locate and capture Sawadjaan and the 2 bombers 2 months ago when 4 army personnel were stopped at a Jolo checkpoint and then shot and killed by police personnel. The army believe the encounter may have been a misunderstanding between the army and police forces but has ramped up the violence and the rhetoric ever since. The army has been unable to apprehend Sawadjaan.

Military officials are speculating that yesterday’s bombings may have been staged as a retaliation for the arrest and detention of one of the groups’ key leaders.

The Abu Sayyaf are a violent group that have aligned themselves with the Islamic State and been branded by the US and the Philippines as a terrorist group. They’ve been responsible for bombings, ransom kidnappings and beheadings in the southern region of the country.

Army officials believe that participant fighters of Abu Sayyaf have dwindled to a few hundred over the past few years. One of the key leaders of the group has been blamed for kidnappings and beheadings of hostages, including foreign tourists.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Truth B Told

    August 25, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    Religion of peace strikes again

    • Avatar

      Ricky Cleats

      August 25, 2020 at 1:02 pm

      A piece here a piece there.

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Top 10

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia

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Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | The Thaiger

Tropical nights, curious mountain silhouettes, sprawling rice paddies and exotic cuisine. You’ll also find some snow-topped mountains as well. The Thaiger has selected the Top Ten of these camera-worthy towns. Southern Asia is a concoction of the ancient, very modern, traditional and enigmatic. Amongst the islands, megacities and spectacular scenery, there are also some very pretty towns that deserve your days pottering around and investigating. Some of them you would have never heard of. Here’s our Thaiger Top Ten must-see towns in Asia, in no particular oder…

Old Phuket Town, Thailand

Most tourists head for the beaches, but the southern Thai island of Phuket offers a lot, lot more these days up and down the west coast and across to the island’s east coast as well, not just Patong. The historic old quarter of Old Phuket Town, located in the central east coast of the island, is lined with Sino-Portugeuse colonial shophouses, built during the island’s tin-mining boom of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Twenty years ago you couldn’t give them away. Now the old shop-houses are hot property and getting spruced up and re-used for a new generation of tourists and culture vultures. There are plenty of hip shops, cafés, restaurants, bars, art galleries and book shops. The area is also filled with Chinese temples, crumbling mansions and cultural museums.

Check out the weekly Sunday night ‘Lard Yai’ market along Thalang road for some local market vibes in amongst some local ephemera, astonishing Thai street food, some local performers and a few bargains. Kicks off around 4pm. If it rains during the island’s wet season (May to November), you’ll get wet but it’s always around 30 degrees C and you can duck undercover anywhere around the Old Town’s sidewalks.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

Galle, Sri Lanka

On the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka is the walled town of Galle, an important trade port for centuries.

The UNESCO-listed fortress has been through three bouts of colonial rule – the Portuguese from 1505-1658, the Dutch from 1658-1796 and the British from 1796-1948. These days, many of the old merchant houses are renovated into museums, boutique hotels, shops, restaurants and bars.

The dining scene has grown in breadth and popularity, with fresh seafood, excellent Sri Lankan curries and egg hoppers (dome-like pancakes). There’s also plenty to see as you walk off all that food. The Dutch Reformed Church, Sudharmalaya Temple, Galle Clock Tower, Galle Lighthouse, Meeran Mosque and the old Spice Warehouse. Then head down the southern coastline to enjoy the surf, diving, whale-watching or just laying around Unawatuna Beach.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

City of Vigan, Philippines

Experience a rich history of Spanish colonial-era architecture in the city of Vigan. It lies on the west coast of Luzon island in northwestern Philippines. Vigan was established by the Spanish in 1572. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage City.

Conquistador Juan de Salcedo developed a modern grid plan for the city, and Spanish architects designed beautiful churches, grand mansions and schools with unique windows and dark timber interiors.

Most of the colonial buildings are situated around the Plaza Salcedo, including the St Paul’s Cathedral. This beautiful Baroque structure was first built in 1641 and then restored after several earthquakes and fires.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

Hoi An, Vietnam

Located on the central coast of Vietnam, about 40 minutes drive south of Da Nang, Hoi An’s Old Town has an international reputation as a haven for photographers, architecture lovers and lovers of food. Added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1999, the town was a former French colonial trading port that has been a commercially vital town for Vietnam since the 16th century. It’s now more important to Vietnam as a commercially vital tourist magnet.

The rambling narrow streets of Hoi An feature rows and rows of charming mustard coloured old trading houses. Many are now trendy restaurants, bars, design boutiques, coffee shops and tailors. Seemingly with a production designer preparing the town as a set for a ‘colonial asian’ movie, lush foliage spills from the rooftops and silk lanterns light up the town at night. It’s right out of a picture book.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

George Town, Malaysia

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, the sprawling historic quarter of George Town on Penang island showcases its many cultural influences over the centuries. You’ll also find some similarity with Phuket’s Old Town, just 600 kilometres north, but with a broader cuisine and more colonial influence.

George Town’s colourful heritage traces back 500 years when the former British colony was a prominent hub of trade on the Malacca Strait, enabling cultural exchange between Malay, Chinese, Indian and European residents. The town still resinates with influences from all of these cultures. There is an eclectic mix of pastel-hued shophouses, Chinese mansions, churches and temples, colonial buildings, food and fortresses.

George Town deserves its reputation as the “food capital of Malaysia” and remains one of the best food cities in Asia – from street food to hawker centres, chintzy local restaurants to fully renovated mansions serving up high end fusion cuisine. Like the architecture, the local cuisine captures George Town’s multicultural history.

If you’re heading to George Town, take your appetite.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

Luang Prabang, Laos

The former capital of Laos on the banks of the Mekong River, is the picturesque Luang Prabang, home to temples and dramatic natural scenery.

It’s either one of Southeast Asia’s most spiritual places or an emerging party town for the backpacker set, or both. Either way Luang Prabang makes a dramatic first impression.

The town is hugged by mountains as it rests at the bottom of a valley in central Laos. The location was the first kingdom in Laos from the 14th to 16th centuries, Luang Prabang was long a strategic location along the famed Silk Route. Since then the French have also had their time as colonial overlords which has resulted in a fusion of European and Laotian architecture creating a distinct townscape.

Although Vientiane, on the Thai border, is now the capital, Luang Prabang, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, continues to be the country’s cultural and artistic capital.

In addition to the graceful architecture, Luang Prabang is also home to beautiful natural attractions including the Kuang Si Waterfalls and Phousi Mountain. There are also more than 30 Buddhist temples, the Royal Palace Museum, night markets, river boat rides and biking tours.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

Kampot, Cambodia

Think Cambodia and you automatically think ‘Angkor Wat’, but Cambodian travellers are falling in love with the southern charms of Kampot.

The serene coastal town, on the southern coast along the Gulf of Thailand, is getting a reputation as one of the prettiest small towns in the region. Think colourful French colonial shophouses, tidy pedestrian-friendly streets, river activities and a feast for the cameras. You can spend your days kayaking, mountain trekking, biking, river cruises, paddle-boarding, or you could take a day trip through the countryside’s lush paddy fields, cave temples and waterfalls.

Kampot has a growing foodie reputation as a culinary playground with everything from traditional Khmer cuisine to vegan delights. The town still has a bit of a ‘rough’ reputation but is well worth a visit and certainly deserves its place amongst the top ten prettiest towns in Asia.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

Kota Gede, Indonesia

Among the oldest parts of Yogyakarta in central Java, Kota Gede is known for its silver industry, cute laneways and photogenic architecture.

The location’s history goes back to the 15th century, when Yogjakarta was the seat of the Mataram Sultanate, the last kingdom before the Dutch colonised Java island. Wealthy merchants built palatial homes in the Kalang style, a mix of Dutch structural elements, traditional Javanese layouts and local craftsmanship.

Travellers in the 21st century can now walk along Jalan Kemasan and browse through boutiques, art galleries and silver workshops showcasing the famous jewellery and elaborate tableware. For a little history, travellers can also venture out to Yogyakarta’s most famous UNESCO-listed landmarks – the Prambanan Temple and the eighth-century Borobudur Temple.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

Mawlynnong, India

In amongst one of the world’s most chaotic and messy countries, lies Mawlynnong, located in the East Khasi Hills of northeastern India, which has been named the “Cleanest Village in Asia”. Go figure!

The village lives up to its reputation thanks to the Khasi community who call the town ‘home’ and take great pride in keeping the village pristine. The town is famous for its meticulously pruned gardens.

There’s a popular 85 foot high tree house called Sky View constructed of bamboo that overlooks the jungle canopies all the way across the plains of Bangladesh to the south. There’s also the Mawlynnong Waterfall, while a living tree root bridge creating a scene from Game of Thrones or an Indiana Jones movie.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

Ghandruk, Nepal

Ghandruk is a mountain village at the foothills of the Himalayas in central Nepal. The village is more than 2,000 metres above sea level, the highest in our Top Ten list.

The village is about a five-hour hike from Pokhara, a pretty lakeside city in central Nepal that acts as the starting point for the popular Annapurna Circuit (and also worthy of a visit for a few days). You’ll find traditional tea houses, a mountain-top temple, horseback riding and the local customs of the Gurung people who live here.

Members of this Nepalese community have served in the British Army’s Gurkha regiments during many conflicts and you should make time to visit the Old Gurung Museum which provides lots of fascinating historical insights.

And the village has quite a spectacular backdrop with Mounts Annapurna, Machhapuchhre and Himalchuli looming large as you look over your shoulder.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

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Crime

Philippine president says “kill the drug traffickers”

Caitlin Ashworth

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Philippine president says “kill the drug traffickers” | The Thaiger
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“If it’s drugs, you shoot and kill. That’s the arrangement.”

Philippine police have been ordered to kill those caught trafficking drugs. Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte said publicly during a Cabinet meeting that he wanted a revised crackdown on the country’s drug trafficking. The country’s leader is known for his strong anti-drug and hard-ball stance on drug dealing and trafficking, backed by the national police, where more than 5,700 alleged drug suspects have been killed.

The president gave the order to Bureau of Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrer, who is a retired army general and former military chief of staff. While the commissioner did not attend the meeting, Duterte reiterated to the Cabinet what he told the commissioner in a previous meeting. The president mentioned he approved the commissioner’s request for firearms, but no one has been killed yet using the new guns, telling the customs officer to “shape up.”

“Drugs are still flowing inside the country through customs … I approved the purchase of firearms and until now you haven’t killed even one? I told him, ‘Shape up’ … I told him straight, ‘Drugs are still flowing in. I’d like you to kill there … anyway, I’ll back you up and you won’t get jailed. If it’s drugs, you shoot and kill. That’s the arrangement.”

The president has a history of threatening drug dealers, but has also denied ordering the extrajudicial killings. More than 5,700 drug suspects were killed during the 4 year anti-drug campaign. Most of the suspects were poor. Duterte claims those killed by police during the campaign threatened the lives of police officers.

Human rights groups got involved and the alleged crimes were reviewed by the International Criminal Court. In independent investigations by human rights groups, they found that some police killings were allegedly covered up by authorities. They say the scene was altered and police officers allegedly placed firearms in the victims’ hands to make it look like they fought back.

Police have responded by saying, if the human rights groups do have evidence of the alleged misconduct, then they should file criminal complaints in court.

In 2018, President Duterte placed the military in control of the customs bureau after large shipments of methamphetamine entered the country through Manila. Duterte says he will continue the crackdown in his remaining two years as president.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Southeast Asia

AirAsia revenue nosedives 98%

Jack Burton

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AirAsia revenue nosedives 98% | The Thaiger
PHOTO: TTR Weekly

As Asia’s budget airlines struggle for survival, AirAsia Group Wednesday reported its revenue plummeted 98% year-on-year. The unaudited consolidated second quarter results of AirAsia Group, identified as the Consolidated Group (Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia) 1 reported revenue of 119 million ringgit, (around 888 million baht) down 96% from 2.9 billion ringgit (21.6 billion baht) in the second quarter of 2019.

Revenue declined as capacity was significantly reduced due to the grounding of the fleet at the end of March, prior to a gradual resumption of domestic operations from the end of April as travel restrictions eased. It was also negatively impacted by 60 million ringgit (448 million baht) in refunds.

The Consolidated Group posted a loss in Q2 2020 of 5.1 billion baht, in comparison to 1.9 billion in 2019. The loss was attributed to a shortfall in revenue amidst subdued travel demand due to lockdowns and border restrictions worldwide.

As flights gradually resumed from the end of April, the Group saw an uptick in several key operational metrics in June compared to May, including triple the number of passengers carried by AirAsia Malaysia, doubling the number of passengers carried by AirAsia Thailand, and a 10% increase in load factor while reaching 6 times the number of passengers carried by AirAsia India, reflecting the strong rebound demand for air travel.

“We will be able to maintain sustainable operations on the back of our domestic services for the rest of the year if travel restrictions and border closures remain in place. Fares have been improving, and we believe that competitors will continue to price rationally. We managed to reduce airline operational expenses by 72% for the quarter with strict cost control and thanks to our staff taking pay cuts across the Group. 70% of our fuel hedging costs were restructured, and we have received support from lessors for deferrals, as seen in the 99% reduction in net cash used for financing activities in 2Q2020.”

SOURCE: TTR Weekly

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