Philippine 'mutineers' arrested

Six fugitive army officers allegedly linked to a failed mutiny against Philippine President Gloria Arroyo have been arrested in a dawn raid. 

The officers were seized at a house in Manila, and weapons and explosives were found at the scene, police said. 

The officers are accused of leading hundreds of soldiers who occupied buildings in Manila's Makati financial district in 2003. 

The mutineers surrendered less than 24 hours later, and no shots were fired. 

A civilian fact-finding commission concluded that the mutiny was part of a larger plot to replace President Arroyo with a military government. 

'Powerhouse' of coup plot 

The six officers were arrested along with two civilians, when police swooped on a rented house in a Manila suburb on Friday morning. 

One of the civilians was named as the officers' lawyer, Christopher Belmonte.

General Generoso Senga, the military's chief of staff, said the six officers were the most prominent of all the military rebels still at large. 

"It's a big blow to their movement," he said. "With the arrest of these officers, we believe we have prevented possible conduct of terrorist actions... to destabilise the government." 

The national police chief, Oscar Calderon, described the arrested men as the "powerhouse" of the coup plotters, and said intelligence officers had been watching them for more than a month. 

Three of those arrested had already escaped from an army detention centre in January. 

The officers are accused of taking part in a mutiny in July 2003, in which nearly 300 heavily armed soldiers abandoned their posts and seized part of the capital, Manila. 

The soldiers occupied a hotel and a nearby shopping mall in the city's Makati financial district, and demanded the resignation of Mrs Arroyo and other officials, claiming the government was corrupt. 

After a 19-hour standoff, the soldiers agreed under threat of force to return to their barracks.

07/07/2006

Bron : BBC News

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