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Philippine police van mows down people during violent anti-U.S. military protest

By Andrew V. Pestano
Philippine police van mows down people during violent anti-U.S. military protest
A police van runs over people during a protest in front of the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines, on Wednesday. Hundreds of protesters including indigenous people, students and militant groups stormed toward the embassy to protest against the presence of U.S. military troops and to support Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's independent foreign policy comments. Photo by Mark R. Cristino/EPA

MANILA, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- An anti-U.S. protest in the Philippine capital of Manila turned violent Wednesday as a police van repeatedly rammed into protesters who surrounded the vehicle, video of the incident shows.

The demonstrators were protesting the United States' military presence in the island nation outside of the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Police used tear gas on dozens of protesters who themselves clashed with police. Some protesters began striking the police van with batons they took from officers before the van began moving -- mowing down several people.

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NPR reported the protesters were demanding U.S. troops leave the southern island of Mindanao. In the fight against militant Islamist groups, specifically the Islamic State-ally Abu Sayyaf, U.S. Special Forces have assisted troops in the Philippines through training and information-sharing, as the Philippine Constitution prohibits foreign troops from taking part in direct combat operations.

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Previously, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte suggested he also wants U.S. Special Forces to vacate Mindanao -- citing the danger they are in.

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"The U.S. Special Forces, they have to go. They have to go in Mindanao. There are many whites there," Duterte said before speaking on the threat of Abu Sayyaf, which he recently vowed to "erase" and "devour."

"If they see an American, they would kill him. They would demand ransom then kill him. Even if you're a black or white American as long as you are an American," Duterte said of Abu Sayyaf.

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