Saturday, May 14, 2016

Mysterious Blast in Philippines Fuels Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘Hatred’ of U.S.

From the New York Times (May 13): Mysterious Blast in Philippines Fuels Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘Hatred’ of U.S.

Rodrigo Duterte, who is on the verge of becoming the Philippines’ president, has expressed his outrage at allegations the United States helped a criminal suspect leave the country. Credit Ritchie B. Tongo/European Pressphoto Agency        

 For more than a decade, a mysterious explosion at the Evergreen Hotel in Davao City has been a footnote in the long, checkered history between the Philippines and its former colonial master, the United States. But among those who never let it go was the city’s mayor, Rodrigo Duterte — who is now poised to become the Philippines’ new president.

In an interview last year before he announced his candidacy, Mr. Duterte went so far as to acknowledge “hatred” for the United States stemming from the obscure episode, when an American named Michael Terrence Meiring was charged with possession of explosives but managed to flee the Philippines.
Mr. Meiring called himself a treasure hunter and joked about being with the C.I.A., meaning “Christ in Action.” He told the hotel staff not to touch a metal box in his room, apparently with good reason. On May 16, 2002, the box exploded, mangling his legs and damaging the hotel.
But three days later, despite severe injuries and the charges against him, Mr. Meiring vanished from his hospital room. Philippine officials later said that men waving F.B.I. badges had taken him in the dark of night and flown him out of the country without their permission.
Mr. Duterte expressed outrage that the United States would help a criminal suspect leave the country without regard to Philippine law. He also fanned speculation that Mr. Meiring was involved in covert operations conducted by the United States in the Philippines.
Fourteen years later and scheduled to be sworn in as president on June 30, Mr. Duterte is still angry.
Last month, he threatened to cut ties with Washington in response to critical comments from the United States ambassador to the Philippines, Philip S. Goldberg. “Go ahead and sever it,” Mr. Duterte snapped, referring to diplomatic relations. His spokesman, Peter Laviña, explained that Mr. Duterte’s hostility originated with the Meiring case.
“Mayor Duterte has his own personal experience in Davao,” Mr. Laviña said in a television interview. “We were able to capture a bomber, a suspect in the bombing in Davao. He was an American. He was spirited away by the U.S. Embassy. I think that’s when the bad relations started.”
The Philippines has long been the United States’ closest ally in Southeast Asia. The two nations have a mutual defense pact, and the Philippines recently agreed to allow the Pentagon to station troops and weapons at bases in the country. For more than a decade, American forces have also trained and advised Philippine soldiers hunting the Abu Sayyaf, a gang of rebel kidnappers operating in the southern islands that recently swore allegiance to the Islamic State.
Davao City is the most populous city in the south, and a pair of bombings there killed 38 people in 2003. But Mr. Duterte, its mayor for the past 20 years, has long expressed skepticism about the American military presence. In 2013, he said he had blocked an American proposal to base drones at Davao City’s old airport, citing his concerns about the Meiring case.
“I do not want it,” he was quoted saying in local news media. “I do not want trouble and killings. They will only add to the problem.”
Aides to Mr. Duterte did not respond to requests for comment. But in the interview in which he discussed the case last year, Mr. Duterte said that his “hatred” for the United States was a “personal” sentiment that he could set aside in the national interest. He also said, though, that his anger over the Meiring case had not diminished.
A spokesman for the United States Embassy, Kurt Hoyer, said it would have no comment on the drone proposal, the Meiring affair, or how the episode might affect relations with the incoming president. He said an embassy press statement in 2002 was the final word on the case, but was unable to provide it.
The Meiring affair has long been the subject of conspiracy theories in the Philippines. Much remains unexplained, including why there were explosives in Mr. Meiring’s room and who mounted the operation that helped him escape.
“Why should the U.S. take him out of the country? That’s the puzzle,” said a former high-ranking Philippine intelligence official who declined to be identified because he was not directly involved in the case.
According to news reports, Mr. Meiring had been going to Davao City on the island of Mindanao for many years, usually staying in the same suite at the Evergreen. He had documents allowing him to hunt for treasure — which was believed to have been left by occupying Japanese forces during World War II — and an identity card allowing him to travel in territory held by separatist Islamic rebels.
At the time, the southern Philippines was plagued by armed conflict with the rebels and occasional bombings, including a blast a month earlier that killed 15 people in the city of General Santos, about 90 miles south of Davao City.
When the police first questioned Mr. Meiring about the explosion at the Evergreen, he said someone had thrown a grenade into his room. But investigators quickly found conclusive evidence that the blast was caused by explosives in his room, according to the police file, including the remains of two 6-volt batteries, an electric blasting cap and a circuit board.
Doctors amputated one of Mr. Meiring’s legs, but he was taken from the hospital and flown from Davao by charter plane, the police said at the time. He received medical treatment in Manila and left the country soon after.
Witnesses said that the men who took him from the hospital displayed F.B.I. badges. The hospital’s owner told reporters that he agreed to release Mr. Meiring despite his injuries after American officials promised to issue a work visa for his daughter, a nurse.
A Davao City court official, who had not been informed of Mr. Meiring’s death, said there was still an outstanding warrant for his arrest on charges of illegal possession of explosives and reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property.
There has long been unsubstantiated speculation in the Philippines that Mr. Meiring was responsible for bombings in the turbulent region as part of a covert American operation aimed at gathering intelligence on the rebels or prompting the Philippine government to approve greater United States military assistance.
But a former C.I.A. official who served in the Philippines discounted the possibility that Mr. Meiring was a C.I.A. operative. While the former official was not familiar with details of the Meiring case, he said keeping explosives in his hotel room and joking about “Christ in Action” would be obvious violations of agency protocol.
Ramon Casiple, the executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, a nonprofit organization promoting democracy in the Philippines, said the burden would be on Washington to win Mr. Duterte’s trust, perhaps starting with an explanation of what happened at the Evergreen Hotel.
“He will try to improve relations with the U.S. but it is really more of the U.S. building relations with him,” Mr. Casiple said. “As far as he is concerned, the U.S. record in Mindanao is not that good.”

A Quest for Best Practices: Trilateral Cooperation on Maritime Security in the Celebes Sea

From The Diplomat (May 14): A Quest for Best Practices: Trilateral Cooperation on Maritime Security in the Celebes Sea

What models can Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines follow for their new trilateral maritime cooperation?

A Quest for Best Practices: Trilateral Cooperation on Maritime Security in the Celebes Sea

Indonesia Navy ship KRI Pattimura entering Port Blair during the Indian–Indonesia Coordinated Patrol (CORPAT).

On May 5, 2016, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines issued a joint declaration on maritime security as a prompt response to the Abu Sayyaf group’s abducting hostages of various nationalities, including sailors from Indonesia and Malaysia. This agreement is an apt example of the states’ response to the emerging maritime security challenges in the region.

The Celebes Sea has a substantial strategic value as a semi-enclosed sea regulated under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), part IX. Its location and potential resources define the strategic importance of the Celebes Sea both for coastal and user states. Unfortunately, the Celebes Sea suffers from a lack of maritime governance since the area has become fertile ground for trans-border illegal activities at sea, including armed robbery against ships, smuggling, and more seriously, facilitating the terrorist nexus at sea. Also, the three littoral states have yet to agree on their maritime boundaries and there is a territorial issue in Sabah involving Malaysia and the Philippines. The dormant issue of Indonesia and Malaysia’s dispute over Ambalat is another crucial challenge.

The joint declaration addresses these issues by highlighting four important measures: conducting patrols; rendering immediate assistance for people and ships in distress; establishing a national focal point; and a communication hotline. It will be interesting to observe the implementation of this declaration. Will the three countries conduct coordinated or joint patrols, or a mix of the two?

The cooperation between Australia and France to tackle Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing in the Southern Ocean is a good model for joint cooperation. The growing trend of IUU Fishing in the Southern Ocean and the remoteness of the area (4,100 kilometers from Perth) provided two reasons for Australia and France to adopt joint patrols. They signed two treaties in 2003 and 2007 to solve this challenge. The 2003 Treaty covered the area of cooperation, information exchange mechanism, logistics support, cross surveillance with state consent, and, importantly, the continuation of hot pursuit into the other state’s territorial seas. The 2007 Agreement adopted a joint patrol mechanism, defined the role of reciprocal controllers, laid out reporting procedures on enforcement actions, authorized “disruptive measures,” and granted immunity to law enforcement officers. These agreements represent the most complete level of cooperation between states against IUU Fishing.

The common ground of combating IUU Fishing was a crucial enabler for Australian and French cooperation. Similarly, the multifaceted menaces in the Celebes Sea may become strong drivers for littoral states to adopt similar concepts. However, the Australia-France joint patrol mechanism is accommodated through legally binding treaties while the joint declaration by the three countries in the Celebes Sea does not have the same level of legal authority. Joint patrols may require the creation of a stronger legal framework between Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Besides, the presence of contested waters in the Celebes Sea and the sensitivity over sovereignty issues may become obstacles to the joint patrol scheme. Nevertheless, relevant articles in UNCLOS–particularly articles 74(3) and 83(3)–could facilitate the states’ adopting enforcement action in contested waters.

Some have suggested adopting the Malacca Strait Sea Patrols (MSSP) as a model for the Celebes Sea area. Indonesia and the Philippines have established a coordinated patrol along their maritime border (CORPAT PHILINDO) on a bilateral basis. The words in the recent joint declaration document advise that the three countries are to maintain the “existing mechanism.” In principle, the three countries are comfortable with the CORPAT approach as an acceptable option under the current circumstances. The drawback is that a coordinated patrol may have limited enforcement access and legal rights inside other states’ territorial waters. For example, the perpetrators may take advantages of the vicinity of the third states’ territorial waters as a safe haven and escape from law enforcement authorities in the case of hot pursuit.

Sustained emerging maritime incidents in the Celebes Sea suggest that the current measures are not adequate. Thus, the littoral states need to enhance the overall condition of maritime security in the area.

The joint declaration is a good initiative to the promotion of peace, stability, and security in the Celebes Sea. Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines should formulate a sound mechanism by collaborating on the best practices and benefits of coordinated and joint patrol operations. The objectives, scope and area of operation, command and control structure, hot pursuit procedures, legal prosecution, and immunity of law enforcement officers are some important elements to be included in the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Essentially, they need to strengthen and intensify their efforts to transform this declaration into effective and practical actions in the Celebes Sea. The tenets of friendship, trust, and unity of effort are critical to the success of this trilateral cooperation.

[Lieutenant Commander Lucky Wuwung is serving as a Surface Warfare Officer in the Indonesia Navy. Currently, he is an international student of Naval Staff College 2016 at the U.S. Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, United States. The views expressed here are his own.]

Philippines declines Itu Aba invitation

From the Taipei Times (May 14): Philippines declines Itu Aba invitation

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is trying to show Itu Aba is a life-supporting island, not a rock, which entitles it to a 200 nautical mile exclusive zone

The Philippines has officially declined an invitation from Taiwan to visit Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) in the disputed South China Sea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, while rebutting Manila’s argument that Itu Aba is a rock and not an island.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) extended the invitation in March to the Philippines to send government representatives or lawyers to visit Taiping to see the place for themselves, as questions have been raised recently about whether the 0.51km2 Itu Aba, the largest of the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島), can be defined as an island under international law.

Ma also invited the five arbitrators from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, who are dealing with a case brought by the Philippines against China, which has triggered interest in how the land formations in the South China Sea should be defined.

The Philippines formally declined Taiwan’s invitation, while The Hague has yet to respond, the ministry said in a statement.

The Philippines has continued to make statements about Itu Aba that Taiwan considers to be false, which has undermined peace in the region, the ministry said.

Manila is hoping that the court will rule that many of the formations claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea are reefs or rocks, entitled to no more than 12 nautical miles (22.2km) of territorial waters, rather than islands, which generate 200-nautical-mile economic zones.

Such a ruling would negate many of China’s claims to fishing or resource rights in the region.

Taiwan has taken an interest in the case because a lawyer for the Philippines has argued that Itu Aba is not an island, but a rock that cannot support human habitation.

As part of Taiwan’s efforts to seek international support for its stance that Itu Aba meets the definition of an island, it has arranged for international media representatives and experts over the past few months to visit the island to see it for themselves.

Ma also visited Itu Aba in January. The island lies about 1,600km southwest of Kaohsiung.

Itu Aba has its own sources of natural, abundant, potable water, as well as naturally formed fertile soil, as well as fruit, vegetables, chickens and goats that have been raised there, providing ample evidence that it is fit for human habitation and can support an economic life of its own, meeting the definition of an island under international law, the ministry said.

In yesterday’s statement, the ministry once again extended an invitation to the tribunal panel to visit Itu Aba so that it does not make a ruling based on only partial information.

“If the court of arbitration does not respond to our invitation, it should not make a ruling on the legal status of Taiping,” the ministry said.

Should the final ruling undermine Taiwan’s sovereignty over the South China Sea and maritime rights in the region, it would not be legally binding for Taiwan, the ministry said.

The Republic of China government would not recognize or accept such a ruling, it added.

Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei claim all or part of the islands and reefs in the South China Sea, which is thought to be rich in oil and natural gas reserves.

The New 'X Factor' in South China Sea Crisis: Rodrigo Duterte

From The National Interest (May 12): The New 'X Factor' in South China Sea Crisis: Rodrigo Duterte

Rodrigo Duterte’s victory in the Philippines’ Presidential elections has introduced new uncertainty into Asia’s security outlook.

The populist strongman from Davao, which is the largest city in Mindanao, is nicknamed ‘The Punisher’ and ‘Duterte Harry’ for his alleged involvement in extrajudicial killings of around 1,000 criminals in that city during the late 1990s. Duterte secured 38.49% of the presidential vote, ahead of 23.46% and 21.66% for his rivals Manuel Roxas and Grace Poe, respectively. He won on a populist message that he’ll clean up the corruption and criminality that plagues the Philippines and prevents its rapid GDP growth of 6.7%—the fourth fastest economic growth rate in the world—from benefiting the majority of its people.

Duterte’s record in Davao, and his rhetoric used during the campaign of ‘death squads as apolitical platform’, raise concerns that progress towards democratization following the fall of the Marcos regime in 1986 could be rapidly undone, and that a new period of authoritarianism (PDF) and human rights abuses may emerge.

Duterte’s foreign policy rhetoric suggests that under his Presidency, the Philippines could suddenly shift its position on the South China Sea crisis in a manner that would generate uncertainty, and  weaken ASEAN’s ability to develop a common position against an assertive China. The Philippines will be the chair of ASEAN in 2017, and so Duterte’s position on the growing crisis in the South China Sea really matters. The problem is that his rhetoric is confused—on one hand he suggests a willingness to engage China bilaterally over the crisis in exchange for Chinese economic investment, on the other he proposes a multilateral roundtable discussion that China would oppose. And then there is loose talk of confronting China at Scarborough Shoal on a jet ski—the maritime equivalent of a shirtfront!

The shifting policy position of the President-elect is likely to reinforce the risk of miscalculation on both sides of the dispute and generate further provocations. The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague is currently assessing a crucial legal case presented by the Philippines against China on the issue of disputed territories in the South China Sea. Its finding is likely to be handed down in June, and could favor the Philippines. China is vowing that it will ignore the PCA’s finding, and in doing so, weaken legal norms such as UNCLOS. Duterte has indicated he’s not a strong supporter of international legal solutions to disputes stating: ‘I have a similar position as China’s. I don’t believe in solving the conflict through an international tribunal’. His stance could embolden China to be more assertive. Under Duterte, the dynamics of this crisis look set to change in China’s favor.

A Duterte government is also likely to pose challenges for the Philippines’ key external partners—the United States, Japan and Australia. Australia is already uneasy with the prospect of dealing with Duterte, given his inappropriate comments about the tragic murder of an Australian missionary. Duterte has threatened to sever relations with Australia as a result of criticism by Australian diplomats over his comments related to the rape. Australia may be uncomfortable in seeking closer relations if Duterte continues the practice of extrajudicial killings and reverses progress towards democracy.

Australia must also consider the broader implications for our defense diplomacy with the Philippines under Duterte. The 2016 Defense White Paper notes the importance of the Philippines given its strategic location, and its approach to maritime security, counterterrorism and other aspects of regional security (5.58). If Duterte begins to shift the Philippines defense posture to one that’s more accommodating of China in the South China Sea, perhaps through bilateral arrangements, or by side-stepping the outcome of the PCA, he would undermine efforts to strengthen the rules-based international order that fundamentally says ‘might does not make right’, and which is a key assumption underpinning Australian defense policy. That would lead to an erosion of ASEAN unity, and China would directly benefit from the probable fallout for the Philippines relations with Japan and the US. The US has just undertaken a third Freedom of Navigation operation, near Fiery Cross Reef, and moved to loosen restrictions on arms sales to Vietnam. It comes as Chinese survey vessels have been sighted near Scarborough Shoal—a mere 225 km from Manila—a move that suggests Beijing may determine to militarize the disputed island in the near future.

An unpredictable populist President in Manila could quickly undo a key component of regional counter-balancing against Beijing. The South China Sea crisis has just got a lot more complex.
This piece first appeared in ASPI's The Strategist here

2 killed, 2 hurt in army clash with NPA rebels

From  the  Philippine News Daily Inquirer (May 14): 2 killed, 2 hurt in army clash with NPA rebels

Two soldiers were killed and two were injured during an armed clash with the New People’s Army (NPA) at Siti Carbon, Barangay San Isidro, Toboso town, 6:45 a.m. Saturday.

2Lt Ma. Revekka Knothess Roperos, 303rd IB Public Information Officer, said troops from Alpha Company of the 62 Infantry Battalion  encountered at least 10 NPA rebels while conducting combat operations in response to the report of the civilians of the armed rebels presence in the area extorting from the residents.

The encounter resulted in the killing of 2 soldiers and wounding of 2 others.

The names were withheld because their families had not been notified yet.

Meanwhile the 62IB is conducting hot pursuit operations against the perpetrators, Roperos said.

6th ID chief lauds troops for peaceful elections in Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat

From  the  Philippine News Agency (May 14): 6th ID chief lauds troops for peaceful elections in Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao -- Following the successful security operations during the Election 2016, the 6th Infantry Division organized a thanksgiving celebration led by 6ID Commander Major General Edmundo R. Pangilinan Friday that commenced with a Eucharistic celebration at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

The thanksgiving celebration was an offering for all the deployed soldiers of 6ID who had been actively involved in the conduct of Credible, Honest, Orderly, and Peaceful (CHOP) Election period and for keeping them safe and unharmed in the discharge of their duties.

Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th ID chief, said although there were 15 recorded incidents of election-related violence, the election was generally peaceful and the number of incidents was lower than the 2010 and 2013 elections with significantly decreased from 38 and 24, respectively.

In the evening, a thanksgiving dinner was held together with the members of the media all over Central Mindanao that also played a vital role in the election process, which was significant to the over-all success of election.

Wearing their summer outfits, the 6ID personnel and the media enjoyed the night full of entertainment at the newly opened Eco Recreational Park.

Pangilinan expressed his gratitude to everyone, especially to the troops who served during the election, for their dedication and hard work that paved way for an orderly election in his area of operation of 6ID.

“It is therefore fitting that we all offer our success to the Almighty for He gave us good health and strength to be able to serve the people of Central Mindandanao well,” Pangilinan said.

This year's election was the most peaceful and orderly in the last 20 years with the counting and proclamation of winners coming quickly due to automated elections.

Manual voting and counting were vulnerable to violence as candidates refused to accept defeat and resort to violence that ranges from ballot snatching, bombings, ambuscades, rifle grenade attacks and worst murders and assassination.

The partial and unofficial results posted on mainstream media also helped contain violence with the losing candidates already known within the next 24 hours after May 9 national and local elections.

Pangilinan said the peace covenant singing initiated by local Army battalion and brigade commanders also contributed in the peaceful and orderly balloting.

"A snappy salute to all women and men of the 6th ID, those in the front line and all our partners for the successful conduct of election," Pangilinan said.

PN's first SSV now safely anchored off Manila South Harbor

From  the  Philippine News Agency (May 14): PN's first SSV now safely anchored off Manila South Harbor

The BRP Tarlac (LD-601), the country's first strategic sealift vessel (SSV), has safely anchored off the Manila South Harbor breakwater before midnight Saturday.

This was confirmed by Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna in a message to the PNA.

"BRP Tarlac (has safely anchored) near breakwater of the Manila South Harbor before midnight Saturday night," he added.

Prior docking at Pier 13, the ship and her crew will undergo Customs Immigration and Quarantine, Lincuna said.

BRP Tarlac's formal welcome to the PN is scheduled on the afternoon of May 16.

Lincuna said BRP Tarlac entered Philippine territory upon entering Sibutu passage, Tawi-Tawi Thursday.

BRP Tarlac left the Surabaya shipyard of Indonesian contract PT PAL (Persero) last May 9.

Prior departure, BRP Tarlac has successfully concluded her sea trials, he added.

Sea trials refer to the testing phases which aim to check the performance of all machineries and equipment of the SSV.

"It is also conducted to check and measure the ship's general performance and seaworthiness," he added.

The Philippines has a two-SSV order with PT PAL (Persero) for Php3.87 billion which is sourced from the AFP Modernization Fund.

The SSV acquisition project for the PN was initiated upon the approval of Acquisition Decision Memorandum Number 2012-060 by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin last Oct. 30, 2013.

The Department of National Defense declared Persero as the Single Calculated Responsive Bidder with a bidding price of Php3.87 billion on Nov. 18, 2014.

The SSVs are programmed to be the PN’s floating command center carrying out their main purpose as military sealift and transport vessels and also for humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

The ships are estimated to weigh around 7,300 gross register tons.

Further, these vessels are critical assets for civil-military operations due to their capability of transporting large number of soldiers, logistics and supplies.

Moreover, each SSV has the capacity to house three helicopters. The Navy’s Augusta Westland-109s are programmed to be on-board components of these vessels.

These forthcoming landing platform dock strategic sealift vessels will improve the transport capability of the PN and boost the defense capabilities of the country.

PA orders major units to display national flag from May 15 to June 30

From  the  Philippine News Agency (May 14): PA orders major units to display national flag from May 15 to June 30

With the country about to celebrate its 118th Independence Day this June 12, the Philippine Army (PA) has ordered all its major units to display the national flag in all military camps, bases and offices, starting May 15 to June 30.

This includes all major thoroughfares in these military facilities, said PA spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao.

Hao said the display of the national flag is part of the PA's support activity for the annual June 12 celebrations which has the theme of “Kalayaan 2016: Pagkakaisa, Pag-aambagan, Pagsulong.”

A national flag day will also be celebrated this coming May 28 at Imus, Cavite as a take-off ceremony for this year’s commemoration.

3 troopers killed, 2 hurt in Negros Occidental clash

From the Philippine News Agency (May 14): 3 troopers killed, 2 hurt in Negros Occidental clash

Three soldiers were killed while two others were wounded following a clash with New People's Army (NPA) rebels in Toboso, Negros Occidental early Saturday morning.

Killed were Pfc. Reggie Taleon, Pfc. Teddie Alcallaga, and Pfc. Ramel Perasol.

All are members of the 62nd Infantry Battalion, said 303rd Infantry Brigade public affairs office chief 2nd Lt. Revekka Roperos.

While wounded were Cpl. Rosevil Villacampa and Pfc. Jethro Niervo.

Roperos said the clash took place in Sitio Carbon, Brgy. San Isidro around 6:45 a.m.

Members of the 62nd Infantry Battalion were checking reports on the presence of armed men who were extorting food from residents, when they encountered about 10 rebels, triggering a 15-minute clash which left three soldiers dead and two others wounded.

It was not immediately known if there were also casualties among the rebels, who fled after the clash and are now being pursued by other soldiers.