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Philippine police van rams into crowd of anti-US protesters

19 October 2016 14:45



An anti-US protest in front of the American Embassy in the Philippines’ capital has turned violent as a police van rammed into people and reportedly injured three.

Hundreds of people had gathered outside the embassy in Manila on Tuesday, demanding an end to the presence of US troops in their country.

During the rally, the van, which was being driven by a police officer, repeatedly ran over people, driving wildly back and forth as it was surrounded by protesters, television footage showed.

Police also used tear gas against the protesters.

A leader of the protesters, Renato Reyes, said three student activists were taken to a hospital for injuries.

Some reports said the protesters were attempting to seize the embassy building. They were holding banners with a sign reading, “No to US bases & troops.” Several people were arrested after they broke into a line of riot police and splashed red paint onto the embassy building’s walls.

In a similar protest in front of the embassy last month, six people were arrested while burning the American flag.

Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte called on Washington to withdraw its special forces from Mindanao Island, where they have been deployed since 2002 in a program initially devised to train and advise Philippine military units fighting local militants.

Police fires tear gas at people protesting in front of the US Embassy in Manila, October 19, 2016.

The program was discontinued in 2015, but a number of US soldiers remain there.

Earlier this month, the Philippines’ defense chief put joint US-Philippine navy drills in the disputed South China Sea on hold. Delfin Lorenzana said Duterte, the president, wants to halt the 28 military exercises that are carried out with American forces each year.

The US State Department’s spokesman, John Kirby, however, has said that Washington is not aware of any official notification on curtailing military exercises with the Philippines.

Duterte, who took office in June, has had a tense relationship with the US. He condemned Washington’s criticism of his deadly crackdown against illegal drugs, which has left more than 3,600 suspects dead in just three months. He earlier vowed to kill “three million drug addicts” in his country.

The US had long considered its relations with the Philippines as one of its most stable in Southeast Asia.

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