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Philippines accuses China of new water cannon attacks in South China Sea

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Two countries involved in a second incident this month at disputed Second Thomas Shoal.

Manila has accused China’s coastguard of firing water cannon at one of its supply boats, in the latest incident between the two countries in the disputed South China Sea.

The Philippine military said the Saturday morning confrontation lasted for nearly an hour and took place as it sought to resupply a small garrison of sailors on board the sunken Sierra Madre off Second Thomas Shoal.

The shoal, known as Ayungin in the Philippines, has been the site of multiple similar stand-offs in recent months. It lies about 200 kilometres (124 miles) from the western Philippine island of Palawan, and more than 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) from China’s southern Hainan island.

The military released a video clip showing a white ship marked China Coast Guard crossing the bow of a grey vessel it identified as the Philippine supply boat Unaizah May 4, and unleashing its water cannon.

“The UM4 supply boat sustained heavy damages at around 08:52 (00:52 GMT) due to the continued blasting of water cannons from the CCG vessels,” the military said in a statement, without going into detail about the damage.

A Philippine Coast Guard escort vessel later reached the damaged boat “to provide assistance”, the military said.

Gan Yu, a spokesman for the China Coast Guard, said that the Philippine convoy “forcibly intruded into the area despite the Chinese side’s repeated warnings and route controls”, adding the Chinese carried out “control, obstruction and eviction in accordance with law”.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, despite an international court finding in 2016 that the nine-dash line on which it bases its claim was without merit. The Philippines claims areas of the sea around its coasts as do Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam. The self-ruled island of Taiwan is also a claimant.

Manila has revived and expanded its military ties with the United States, a longtime ally, as the situation has become more tense.

The United States lays no claims to the strategic waters but has sent Navy ships on transit missions through the waterway in what it calls “freedom of navigation” operations, which have been criticised by China.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the Philippines last week and stressed the US commitment to Manila was “ironclad”.

Two days after that visit, the Chinese coastguard also tried to drive away Filipino scientists who landed on two cays near Scarborough Shoal, a contested South China Sea outcrop that Beijing seized from the Philippines after a months-long standoff in 2012.

The Chinese coast guard ship seen from the bow of the Unaizah May 4. The Chinese vessel is white and Coast Guard is written on the side, There are several people standing on the deck. It is very close.
The China Coast Guard ship trying to block the resupply mission. The Unaizah May 4 had just returned to sea after an incident earlier this month [Armed Forces of the Philippines via AP Photo]

The Unaizah May 4 had returned to sea after being damaged in a China Coast Guard water cannon attack off Second Thomas Shoal earlier this month, It was escorted by two Filipino coastguard vessels and two Philippine Navy ships, a Philippine military statement said.

Commodore Jay Tarriela, a Philippine Coast Guard spokesman for South China Sea issues, said in a separate statement that one of the escort vessels, the BRP Cabra, was “impeded and encircled” by three Chinese coastguard and other vessels early Saturday.

As a result, Cabra was “isolated from the resupply boat due to the irresponsible and provocative behaviour of the Chinese maritime forces”, he added.

The Chinese side showed a “disregard” for the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS), the statement said.

The Sierra Madre was run aground in 1999 and the troops living on the warship need frequent resupplies of food, water and other necessities.

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‘Obvious’ Sydney mall killer targeted women, Australian police say

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New South Wales Police commissioner says videos of the attack ‘speak for themselves’.

Australian police have said they believe a man who fatally six stabbed people at a busy Sydney shopping centre specifically targeted women.

Five women and one man were killed on Saturday when a 40-year-old man went on a stabbing spree in the beach suburb of Bondi.

The women killed in the attack were identified as a 55-year-old designer, a 47-year-old architect and volunteer surf lifesaver, the 25-year-old daughter of an entrepreneur, a 27-year-old student from China and a 38-year-old new mother.

A 30-year-old Pakistani security guard, who reportedly tried to stop the attacker, was the only man killed in the attack.

The majority of those injured in the attack were also women.

New South Wales state Police Commissioner Karen Webb said on Monday that it was “obvious” the suspected attacker, Joel Cauchi, singled out women.

“It’s obvious to me, it’s obvious to detectives that seems to be an area of interest that the offender focused on women and avoided the men,” Webb told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

“The videos speak for themselves, don’t they? That’s certainly a line for inquiry for us.”

Webb said officers were in the process of interviewing people close to Cauchi to gain “some insight into what he might have been thinking”.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the gender breakdown of the victims was “concerning”.

“The gender breakdown is of course concerning – each and every victim here is mourned,” he told ABC radio.

Videos shared on social media showed Cauchi, wearing shorts and an Australian national rugby league jersey, targeting mostly female victims as he rampaged through Westfield Bondi Junction shopping complex.

The attack was brought to an end when police inspector Amy Scott shot him dead.

Australia’s national flag has been set at half-mast at major venues, including the Parliament House and Sydney’s Harbour Bridge, in honour of the victims.

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US military says it destroyed dozens of drones fired from Iran, Yemen

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US Central Command says it hit more than 80 one-way attack drones aimed at Israel.

The United States has destroyed dozens of drones and at least six ballistic missiles aimed at Israel from Iran and Yemen, its military has said.

US forces hit more than 80 one-way attack drones, including seven UAVs targeted on the ground prior to launch, US Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Monday.

“Iran’s continued unprecedented, malign, and reckless behaviour endangers regional stability and the safety of U.S. and coalition forces,” CENTCOM said in a post on X

“CENTCOM remains postured to support Israel’s defense against these dangerous actions by Iran. We will continue to work with all our regional partners to increase regional security.”

CENTCOM made the announcement after Iran late on Saturday launched its first-ever attack on Israeli territory in retaliation for a suspected Israeli attack on its embassy in Syria.

The attack involving more than 300 drones and missiles caused only modest damage as most were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system or the US and its partners.

Defense of Israel Activities Update

On April 13 and the morning of April 14, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) forces, supported by U.S. European Command destroyers, successfully engaged and destroyed more than 80 one-way attack uncrewed aerial vehicles (OWA UAV) and at least six… pic.twitter.com/QYyk01o1Vs

— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) April 14, 2024

US President Joe Biden earlier praised US forces for their “extraordinary skill” in helping Israel take down “nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles.”

Biden described US support for Israel’s self-defence as “ironclad” but warned that Washington would not join any retaliatory action taken by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government against Tehran.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said US forces “remain postured to protect US troops and partners in the region, provide further support for Israel’s defence, and enhance regional stability.”

The threat of all-out war between Israel and Iran has put the region on tenterhooks, prompting calls for restraint from Middle Eastern neighbours and major powers.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday warned that the Middle East was on “the brink”.

“The people of the region are confronting a real danger of a devastating full-scale conflict. Now is the time to defuse and de-escalate,” Guterres told a UN Security Council meeting convened in response to the Iranian attack.

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Iran claims ‘right to self-defence’ in Israel attack

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Video Duration 01 minutes 24 seconds

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Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations says his country’s drone and missile attack against Israel was ‘in the exercise of Iran’s inherent right to self-defence’. Saeid Iravani told the UN Security Council Iran is not seeking to escalate conflict in the region.

Published On 15 Apr 2024

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