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ISIS claims responsibility for Philippine army camp bombing that left 5 dead
MANILA (Reuters) - An explosion at a military base in the restive southern Philippines on Friday killed five people, including three soldiers, and wounded nine others in what Islamic State said was an attack by its suicide bombers.
The military said the blast occurred at around noon at a base on Jolo island, a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, a splintered militant network notorious for kidnapping and piracy and for its pledge of allegiance to Islamic State.
Islamic State said via its Amaq news agency that its fighters had infiltrated the base strapped with explosives and killed or wounded 100 soldiers. It posted an image of two young men standing beside a black Islamic State flag, wearing what appeared to be vests designed to hold explosives.
Neither the claim nor the authenticity of the photograph could be immediately verified.
The incident will be a major setback for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's goal of wiping out Abu Sayyaf, for which he has created a special infantry division on Jolo to be comprised of 4,500 troops by 2022.
There was no immediate comment from Duterte's office.
The army provided few details of what took place, but vowed a thorough investigation and to respond "with formidable resolve".
"Ground troops continue to establish the circumstances and identify the perpetrators behind this inhumane attack," said Cirilito Sobejana, chief of the Western Mindanao Command. "We will intensify our offensives to crush terrorist groups."
Clashes between troops and Abu Sayyaf have intensified in the wake of a January bombing of a Jolo church that killed 21 people and wounded close to 100, among them soldiers and civilians. Islamic State also claimed responsibility for that assault.
Duterte has maintained martial law across the Mindanao region to curb Islamic State's influence and the decades of banditry by Abu Sayyaf, which is known for its brutality and for posting videos of captives begging for their lives, and for beheading those for whom ransom demands are not met.
A Dutch wildlife photographer held hostage by Abu Sayyaf since 2012 was killed last month by his captors when he tried to escape during a firefight with troops, according to the military, which said six rebels were killed.
Three soldiers were killed and another three injured when their Bradley Fighting Vehicle rolled over during a training exercise at Fort Stewart in Georgia on Sunday morning, Army officials announced.
KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Afghanistan on Sunday in a bid to bring talks with the Taliban back on track after President Donald Trump abruptly broke off negotiations last month seeking to end the United States' longest war.
Esper's trip to Kabul comes amid questions about the United States' commitments to allies after a sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria and Trump's long-time desire to get out of foreign engagements.
Mark Esper is the third person after James Mattis and Patrick Shanahan to helm the Pentagon since Donald Trump became president, and he's apparently not making much of an impression on the commander-and-chief.
On Sunday, Trump sent a very real tweet on "Secretary Esperanto," which is either a reference to a constructed international language developed more than 130 years ago and only spoken on the PA system in Gattaca or an egregious instance of autocorrect.
This rifle could be a dark horse candidate for the Army's next-generation squad weapon — and you can snag one next year
The Army says it's settled on three defense contractors to battle it out to become the service's M4 carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon replacements, but at least one other company is hoping that a bit of consumer approval could help upset the competition.
The U.S. reportedly offered a long-term plan to help North Korea develop a tourist area in return for denuclearization during recent working-level talks in Stockholm that ended with the North side walking out, according to a new report.
American negotiators had drafted a plan to help build up the Kalma tourist area, the South's Hankook Ilbo newspaper reported Saturday, citing an unidentified top South Korean diplomat. The report didn't say how the North Koreans responded to the offer, but chief nuclear negotiator Kim Myong Gil portrayed the U.S. as inflexible after the talks earlier this month, blasting the Americans for not giving up "their old viewpoint and attitude."