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Nine police officers in Philippines fired over violent U.S. military protest

By Andrew V. Pestano
Nine police officers in Philippines fired over violent 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. Nine officers were fired after the incident. Photo by Mark R. Cristino/EPA

MANILA, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- At least nine police officers in the Philippines have been fired following a violent clash with protesters in front of the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

Most of the officers who were fired worked for the Manila Police District, the Philippine's National Capital Region Police Office, or NCRPO, said in a statement.

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NCRPO director Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde told Rappler the officers were "administratively relieved to pave the way for the investigation" into Wednesday's incident.

"It's not conviction or punishment. This does not necessarily mean that they're guilty," Albayalde said.

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An anti-U.S. protest in Manila turned violent as a police van repeatedly rammed into protesters who surrounded the vehicle, video of the incident shows. The officer who drove the vehicle is among those fired.

The demonstrators were protesting the United States' military presence in the island nation. 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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Albayalde said another 40 police officers from the Manila Police District's Civil Disturbance Management unit have been placed under "restrictive custody" pending the investigation.

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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.

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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