Drugs worth US$30m seized
Police arrested four men and seized 1.3 billion pesos (US$30 million) worth of methamphetamine on Friday in the second large drug bust in Manila in 10 days. The men were in a van loaded with five wooden crates containing 272kg of crystal methamphetamine when they were intercepted by police, said Senior Superintendent Bartolome Tobias, head of the National Police anti-illegal drugs task force. The arrests followed a tip from an informant. Last week, the National Bureau of Investigation arrested four Canadian men suspected of trafficking drugs from Mexico in separate raids on posh condominiums. Tobias said police are investigating an “unholy alliance” between Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel and Chinese drug syndicates in the Philippines. “We have to move fast to nip this partnership in the bud,” he said.
Rover meets control glitch
The Jade Rabbit moon rover has experienced a “mechanical control abnormality,” state media said yesterday, in what appears to be a setback for a landmark mission in the country’s ambitious space program. The abnormality occurred due to “the complicated lunar surface environment,” Xinhua news agency said, citing the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND). Scientists were “organizing an overhaul,” the report added. There were no reports of the abnormality on SASTIND’s Web site.
Soldier, ‘radicals’ killed
A soldier and three armed “radicals” were killed in two related shoot-outs in the country’s restive Papua region, an army official said yesterday. A team of soldiers were conducting a raid in the mountainous Puncak Jaya area, a known hideout for armed Papuan separatists, after receiving intelligence on a “radical group,” army spokesman Andika Perkasa said. The soldiers seized a rifle from the gunmen and three were killed in an extended shoot-out, Perkasa said, adding that it was unclear who opened fire first in the incident on Friday. “The team of soldiers had called for back-up,” Perkasa said. “The reinforcement team of 25 people were then ambushed by gunmen on the way to the site. They killed one soldier in that incident.” Police in Papua Province said the gunmen belonged to the separatist Free Papua Movement, but Perkasa said it was too early to speculate on the gunmen’s connections, adding that their motivations could be more complex.
Earthquake shakes Java
A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck off Java yesterday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported, sending panicked residents running from their homes. People in the town of Adipala near the epicenter said they felt the ground shaking hard for up to 20 seconds, as the quake struck in the sea off the coast of southern Java. “We all just ran onto the street, there were so many people,” Astri, a florist who goes by one name, said by phone. “But it doesn’t seem to have damaged anything around here, and we’re getting back to work.” The quake struck at 12:14pm 39km south-southeast of Adipala at a depth of 83km, the USGS said. Officials said there was no risk of a tsunami and no immediate reports of damage or casualties. “We don’t expect a lot of damage because the quake was deep, but we will monitor as it was felt quite strongly on the coast near the epicentre,” meteorology, climatology and geophysics agency technical chief Suharjono said.