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Philippines says arrest six rogue troops in raid

Written by: Staff

Manila, Jul 7: Philippine security forces have arrested six rogue army officers and their lawyer wanted in connection with a coup plot against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, military and police officials said.

Oscar Calderon, the national police chief, said a huge cache of assault rifles, grenades and explosives were seized during the dawn raid on the house in the Manila suburb of Quezon City today.

''We believed the arrests would help stabilise the situation,'' Calderon said, describing the arrested officers, five from the army and one from the navy, as the 'powerhouse' of the group of rogue troops plotting against Arroyo.

Calderon said army and police intelligence had been watching the rogue soldiers for more than a month.

He said the security forces were accompanied by some local officials who claimed the house was only rented three weeks ago by some of the people who were arrested.

''Three of their targets attempted to escape by jumping off the wall but were caught after a brief chase,'' Ronnie Ludovico, a local official, told ABS-CBN television.

The seven people were handcuffed and blind-folded before they were whisked to a van that took them to the national police camp in the capital.

''It's a big blow to their movement,'' General Generoso Senga, the military's chief of staff, told reporters.

Three of those arrested had escaped in January 2006 from an army detention centre. The other three went missing soon after the prison breakout, Senga told a news conference, parading the arrested officers.

Three of the escaped officers had 500,000-peso (9,500 dollars) bounty each for their capture, police said.

The armed forces, undermined by corruption and lack of funds, have spawned at least a dozen coup attempts since late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was ousted in February 1986.

In July 2003, troops seized a luxury apartment tower in Manila's business district and demanded that Arroyo step down over allegations of corruption in the government and armed forces. But the mutiny was put down in less than 24 hours.

In February, security forces pre-empted a fresh plot against the government by rogue troops, conspiring with the communists and her political foes, to set up a civilian-military junta.


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