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18 solders, five militants killed in Philippine clash

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MANILA — Eighteen soldiers and five Muslim radical Abu Sayyaf guerrillas, including a Moroccan national, were killed in a fresh upsurge of violence in the troubled southern Philippines, a military spokesman said Sunday.

At least four of the soldiers were beheaded in the clash with about a hundred Abu Sayyaf fighters Saturday on the strife-torn island of Basilan, regional military spokesman Major Filemon Tan said.

“This is part of the military operations against the Abu Sayyaf,” launched after a series of abductions of foreigners, he told reporters.

The clash came shortly after a retired Italian priest being held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf was freed on Friday.

The Abu Sayyaf is a small group of militants known for kidnapping foreigners and demanding huge ransoms. Eighteen other foreign hostages are being held in the Philippines, most or all of them thought to be in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf.

The group was established in the early 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden`s Al Qaeda network.

Its leaders have in recent years pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group that controls vast swathes of Iraq and Syria.

AFP

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Over 70% of deep-sea fish of Atlantic Ocean have ingested plastic : Study

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Fragments of plastic are found throughout the world, from nearly every continent to nearly every body of water. But, researchers recently have found 73 percent of Northwest Atlantic deep-sea fish are also eating it — the highest reported frequency of plastic-eating fish in the world.

Plastic particles were found in some of the most remote parts of the Atlantic Ocean with almost three quarters of a sample of more than 230 deep-water fish collected by NUI Galway scientists having ingested plastic particles.

The contamination level among the fish species, located in the northwest Atlantic thousands of kilometres from land and 600m down in the ocean, is one of the highest reported frequencies of microplastic occurrence in fish worldwide, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

The NUIG scientists, as part of the study, participated in a transatlantic crossing onboard the marine institute’s Celtic Explorer vessel.

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PhD candidate and lead author Alina Wieczorek said, “Deep-water fish migrate to the surface at night to feed on plankton [microscopic animals] and this is likely when they are exposed to the microplastics.”

During this research cruise they took dead deep-sea fish from midwater trawls such as the spotted lanternfish, rakery beaconlamp, stout saw-palate and scaly dragonfish.

Microplastics are small plastic fragments that commonly originate from the breakdown of larger plastic items entering the ocean. Other sources may be waste water effluents carrying plastic fibres from clothing and microbeads from personal care products. Due to their low density, most of these microplastics float at the sea surface.

The fish ranged in size from the smallest species the Glacier Lantern at 3.5cm to the largest species, the stout saw-palate at 59cm.

Agencies

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