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Monday, December 5, 2016

Philippine Aid Convoy Ambushed As Troops Quell Looting

Tacloban (Philippines) (AFP) – Philippine troops killed two armed insurgents who attacked an aid convoy en route to typhoon-devastated Tacloban on Tuesday, the military said, as soldiers were deployed to quell looting by hungry survivors.

Bodies still littered the streets of the city, where the United Nations fears 10,000 people could have died when the category-five Haiyan struck on Friday.

Thousands of people whose homes were destroyed by one of the most powerful typhoons on record were spending yet another day in misery as troops established checkpoints to try to restore order and allow much-needed aid to percolate through.

Some of that aid fell victim to one of the Philippines’ long-running insurgencies when 15 communist rebels ambushed trucks on their way to the storm-wracked region, a local commander told AFP.

“There were no casualties on the government side,” Lieutenant Colonel Joselito Kakilala said, adding that two members of the New People’s Army, the militant wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, were killed and another wounded in the clash in Matnog town, some 150 miles from Tacloban.

In the city itself, a curfew was in force as armored vehicles and elite security forces patrolled streets where famished survivors had raided stores and ransacked other aid convoys.

Hundreds of soldiers and police were in evidence around the city, the capital of the provincial island of Leyte, which bore the brunt of Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record.

Tacloban — a city of 220,000 residents — has been the scene of the worst pillaging. Survivors reported gangs stealing consumer goods including televisions and washing machines from small businesses.

Chief Superintendent Carmelo Valmoria told AFP that 500 of his Special Action Forces troops were in place.

“When we arrived here, there was looting everywhere in the city. We have come to restore order and ensure the public safety,” Valmoria said.

“We have been conducting checkpoints around the city everywhere and every night to prevent those who have no business (here) from coming in.”

Valmoria said his troops had been confiscating knives and were urgently looking for guns that had been stolen from a firearms store.

Earlier Tuesday, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said four Simba armored personnel carriers had been dispatched to Tacloban.

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