In brief: Filipinos visit South China Sea ship amid controversy
Second Thomas Shoal, South China Sea – A Philippine government ship slipped past a Chinese coast guard vessel and brought food and fresh troops to a marooned navy ship used as a base by Filipino troops to bolster the country’s territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea.
Saturday’s incident was witnessed by journalists who were invited by the Philippines military to accompany the resupply mission. It was a rare close-up look at the tensions in the waters and the determination of all sides to press their claims.
About one hour away from Second Thomas Shoal, where the detachment is based, a Chinese coast guard ship marked “1141” twice crossed the bow of the smaller Philippine vessel in an attempt to stop it from proceeding. Another tailed the Filipino boat.
The Filipino captain maneuvered his vessel to shallow waters where the Chinese ships couldn’t sail to reach the marooned vessel, BRP Sierra Madre, which has become an awkward symbol of Philippine sovereignty in the remote offshore territory.
Car bombing kills three soldiers
Beirut – A suicide bomber in an explosives-laden car targeted a Lebanese army checkpoint near the Syrian border Saturday evening, killing three soldiers, the Lebanese military said.
The attack near the eastern border town of Arsal came after forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad routed rebels from two Syrian villages lying just across the border.
The bombing demonstrated how far the war in neighboring Syria has sucked in its fragile neighbor, igniting violent sectarian tensions between Sunni extremists in Lebanon against the country’s Shiites, and ensnaring even the military.