- Separatist rebel shot dead in Indonesia's Papua
- Philippines to hunt hardline rebels after capturing camps
- Former AFP journalist murdered in Sri Lanka
Posted: 02 Feb 2014 04:37 PM PST
Jakarta (AFP) - Indonesian security forces have shot dead a separatist rebel in the restive eastern province of Papua, police said on Sunday.
Acting on a tip-off, police and the military raided a gathering of members of the rebel Free Papua Movement (OPM) near a beach in the Yapen Waropen district on Saturday, Papua police spokesman Pudjo Sulistyo told AFP.
"They were involved in shooting incidents against police before and had caused unrest in the area," he said.
"We told them to surrender but they retaliated by shooting at us first. A firefight took place and we shot one of them dead," he added.
Eleven members were arrested and firearms were seized along with outlawed pro-independence Morning Star flags.
Three security officers were wounded in the gunbattle, Sulistyo said.
The OPM has since 1964 waged a low-level insurgency -- often using bows and arrows rather than guns -- against Indonesian rule over the resource-rich, ethnically Melanesian region.
Posted: 02 Feb 2014 04:34 PM PST
AWANG (Philippines) (AFP) - Philippine military officials on Sunday vowed to hunt down remaining splinter groups of hardline Muslim rebels after capturing their main camps in a week-long offensive.
The threat posed by members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has diminished due to the offensive that began Monday in remote parts of the troubled southern island of Mindanao, said national military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala.
"They have split into smaller groups and further operations must be done to follow up," he told reporters.
These operations will be "smaller in scale," he said, adding that they would also be held in coordination with the main Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The operation against the BIFF was launched two days after the government and the MILF successfully concluded peace talks aimed at ending decades of fighting that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
The BIFF broke away from the MILF due to their opposition to the talks and has previously launched attacks to derail the peace process.
At a military camp in the town of Awang, the armed forces displayed items they recovered from the BIFF camps including bomb-making materials and pictures showing young boys being trained as soldiers for the militant group.
This supported military accusations that the BIFF were using child soldiers and that three such youths were among the 53 insurgent fighters killed in the violence.
One soldier was also slain in the fighting which included military artillery strikes of BIFF camps.
A BIFF spokesman had previously denied that the group was using children and said the military were manufacturing the evidence.
Among the other items captured in the camp were camouflage uniforms with MILF labels.
However MILF vice-chairman for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar denied there was still a link between the two groups.
"Those are not MILF uniforms. Anybody can make those uniforms," he told AFP.
Military spokesman Zagala also said there were no signs that the MILF was cooperating with the BIFF.
President Benigno Aquino on Wednesday had previously vowed to crush "spoiler" rebels who were opposed to the peace deal.
Posted: 02 Feb 2014 04:41 PM PST
Colombo (AFP) - Former Agence France-Presse journalist Mel Gunasekera was stabbed to death on Sunday after a break-in at her family's home in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, police said.
The body of Gunasekera, who had been working for the international ratings agency Fitch, was discovered by her parents at their house in the Battaramulla neighbourhood after they returned from church, police spokesman Ajith Rohana said.
Police have arrested a man in connection with the murder, Rohana said, adding that he had been in possession of Gunasekera's stolen mobile phone.
The spokesman said that police believe the suspect murdered Gunasekera after she recognised him as a labourer who had been hired over a month ago to paint her house.
"At that stage, he had used a knife from the house to attack and kill her," Rohana told reporters.
He added that police had taken fingerprints and had studied closed-circuit television footage.
Gunasekera, 40, was an assistant vice president at Fitch's Sri Lankan operation, a position she took up in 2012 after a five-year stint as Colombo correspondent for AFP.
As well as reporting extensively on financial and political affairs in Sri Lanka, she also made several visits as a journalist to the neighbouring Maldives.
She was also the founding editor of Lanka Business Online, which is one of Sri Lanka's best known financial news portals.
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