The Philippine Defence Ministry on Thursday likened China’s presence in the disputed South China Sea to squatting and warned that the Philippines was prepared to defend its claim in the region using any means available.
“We are ready to defend our sovereignty and sovereign rights using whatever means available to us,” said Arsenio Andolong, a spokesman for the Department of National Defence.
“Likewise, every able-bodied Filipino should be ready to fulfil his or her duty when the time comes,” he added.
Andolong reiterated that Beijing had no legal basis for its claims to the mineral-rich area, citing UN conventions that were affirmed by a 2016 ruling of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration.
`The Philippines has two documents to support its claims versus none for the Chinese,” he said.
“Thus, the Chinese presence in the West Philippine Sea is akin to somebody squatting on a piece of land owned by someone else.”
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a key shipping lane, and has built artificial islands with military-capable facilities over disputed reefs and outcrops.
Other countries with territorial claims there are Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
The Philippines filed a diplomatic protest against China on Wednesday after more than 100 Chinese fishing boats were spotted near Pag-asa Island, the biggest territory claimed by Manila.
Zhao Jianhua, China’s ambassador to the Philippines, on Tuesday said China “will not take the first shot” and was committed to peace, but was boosting its military presence to defend its country and protect its people.
Rwanda has provoked the fury of President Felix Tshisekedi, after it shuttered its frontier with Ebola-hit Democratic Republic of Congo, when a third case of the deadly virus was detected in the border city of Goma.
The announcement coincided with the first anniversary of an epidemic that has claimed more than 1,800 lives, stoking dread that the disease may spread from eastern DRC to vulnerable neighbours.
In a statement, President Felix Tshisekedi’s office condemned the “unilateral decision by the Rwandan authorities” that affected citizens from both countries who had to cross the border as part of their daily life.
Goma, a city of two million people and a major transport hub, shares the border with the Rwandan city of Gisenyi, which has a population of more than 85,000.
Many people have jobs on the other side of the border while others have homes or put their children in schools in the neighbouring city.
“On the basis of a unilateral decision by the Rwandan authorities, Rwandan citizens cannot go to Goma and Congolese cannot leave Gisenyi but are prevented from going home,” the statement said.
“This decision harms a number of Congolese and expatriates who live in Gisenyi but work in Goma.”
“The Congolese authorities regret this kind of decision, which goes against the recommendation of the World Health Organization.”
“Response teams are continuing to ensure that the city of Goma is out of danger,” it promised.
In Rwanda, a government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “it is closed”, without giving further details.
Just hours earlier, a third case of Ebola was announced in Goma, adding to two fatalities.
Health workers are racing to find people who have had contact with these patients.
In an urban setting, density of population, anonymity and high mobility make it far harder to isolate patients and trace contacts compared to the countryside.
Goma is the capital of North Kivu province, which has borne the brunt of the year-old epidemic, followed by neighbouring Ituri province.
Fifteen people have also been placed in quarantine in South Kivu province, which has so far escaped the epidemic.
The 15, including a mother and her six children who had come from Goma, were isolated in a hospital at Birava, the hospital’s chief doctor, Ciza Nuru, said.
South Kivu Governor Theo Ngwabidje Kasi told the press Thursday that tests on the 15 were negative.
Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza, chosen heir to the leadership of Al-Qaeda, has been killed, US media reported Wednesday citing American officials.
NBC News said three US officials had confirmed they had information of Hamza bin Laden’s death, but gave no details of the place or date.
The New York Times subsequently cited two US officials saying they had confirmation that he was killed during the last two years in an operation that involved the United States.
Questioned by reporters in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump did not confirm or deny the NBC report.
“I don’t want to comment on it,” he said.
Both reports suggested that bin Laden may have been killed well before the US State Department announced a $1 million bounty on his head in February 2019.
The 15th of Osama bin Laden’s 20 children and a son of his third wife, Hamza, thought to be about 30 years old, was “emerging as a leader in the Al-Qaeda franchise,” the State Department said in announcing the reward.
Sometimes dubbed the “crown prince of jihad, he had put out audio and video messages calling for attacks on the United States and other countries, especially to avenge his father’s killing by US forces in Pakistan in May 2011, the department said.
Documents seized in the raid on his father’s house in Abbottabad suggested Hamza was being groomed as heir to the Al-Qaeda leadership.
US forces also found a video of the wedding of Hamza to the daughter of another senior Al-Qaeda official that is believed to have taken place in Iran.
Hamza bin Laden’s whereabouts have never been pinpointed. He was believed to have been under house arrest in Iran but reports suggest he also may have resided in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria.
The group behind the deadly September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Al-Qaeda’s prominence as a radical Islamist group has faded over the past decade in the shadow of the Islamic State group.
But the proliferation of branches and associated jihadist groups in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere have underscored its continuing potency.
Hamza bin Laden was not targeted just because he was bin Laden’s son, said Rita Katz, executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks extremists.
“He was one of Al-Qaeda’s loudest voices calling for attacks in the West and giving directives. He, with Al-Qaeda’s help, was positioning himself to lead the global jihadi movement,” Katz said on Twitter.
“He was seen as a future leader who would unite the global jihad. Thus, if he is indeed dead, it will be a major blow to the movement,” she said.
“I think it’s a big loss for Al-Qaeda,” said Pakistani security expert Rahimullah Yusufzai, one the few journalists to have interviewed Osama bin Laden face to face.