Escapees still at large after Philippines’ biggest ever jailbreak

Philippine authorities captured dozens of inmates who escaped in the nation’s biggest ever jailbreak, but most were still on the run on Friday. Muslim guerrillas stormed a jail in the southern city of Kidapawan, freeing 158 inmates and killing a guard. Warden Peter Bongat said the attackers were believed to be militants who had broken away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a Muslim rebel organisation which is in peace talks with the government.

What next? MILF spokesman Von al-Haq said none of its members were involved in the raid. “The leader of the raid was 100 per cent a notorious criminal. He was never a member of the MILF,” al-Haq said, claiming a militant with the alias Commander Derby had broken into the jail to release a relative who was the leader of the Muslim inmates. Al-Haq said the relative and the leader of the Christian inmates were among the first to escape and were still on the run.

More than 110 inmates remain at large following Philippines’ largest jailbreak

Indonesia and Australia play down military spat over ‘offensive’ posters

Indonesia has denied reports it suspended military cooperation with Australia after teaching materials deemed offensive to Jakarta were found at an Australian army base. The coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, Wiranto, said the army suspended “activities regarding a cooperation programme in Indonesian language classes at [a facility of] Australia’s special forces, due to a case that hurt national dignity in November 2016”. He said classes would resume after Australia resolved the issue.

What next? Authorities did not say what caused the offence, but the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said it related to posters of West Papua, an eastern Indonesian province where a low-level insurgency has been simmering for decades. The ABC also broadcast footage of Indonesia’s military chief General Gatot Nurmantyo voicing fears Canberra was trying to recruit soldiers sent to Australia for training. Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne said that was “not the case”. Her Indonesian counterpart Ryamizard Ryacudu appeared to play down the row. He said: “Don’t let the rats make the relationship turn sour.”

Indonesia denies halting all military cooperation with Australia

Mass molestation in Bangalore blamed on ‘copying Westerners’

An alleged “mass molestation” in Bangalore, India, on New Year’s Eve was the result of young people trying to “copy” Western mindsets and clothing, a state minister has claimed. Thousands gathered in the city centre to celebrate the new year. Local newspaper reports and witnesses said the crowd became unruly and began sexually assaulting and harassing women. “There were inhuman acts,” said a witness, called Sammy. “People were acting like they were helping the women, but actually they were molesting them.”

What next? G. Parmeshwara, the home minister for Karnataka state, appeared to brush aside the incident, saying the problem was that the young people who had gathered “were almost like Westerners”. “They tried to copy the Westerners, not only in their mindset but even in their dressing,” he said, adding that he could not “force people to dress like Kannadigas”, people of to the state’s dominant Kannada cultural group.

‘Mass molestation’ in Bangalore blamed on Indians ‘copying westerners’

Saudi video on female oppression proves online viral sensation

A video (below) for a song that highlights oppression of women in Saudi Arabia has gone viral online. Called Hwages (Concerns), it shows women in the kingdom playing basketball, skateboarding and dancing. Created by media production company 8ies, the video had been watched more than 3 million times on YouTube since it was uploaded late last year. The lyrics include lines such as: “If only God would rid us of men”. The video appears to express the frustration of women in the male-dominated country, where they are told what to do, where to travel and whether to go to college.

What next? On YouTube, one user commented: “Unbelievable video clip!! The voice is bad and the content is worse... Imagine the girls drive [cars] and men are dressed like that and dance. May Allah protect us.” Another wrote: “The video clip is beautiful. With all the comedy, it shows one aspect of oppression girls are subjected to.” It is the latest viral hit to put the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia under the spotlight.

Cambodian police hunt three after king’s image put in gay porn

Cambodian police were on Friday planning to arrest three people, including one believed to be in Thailand, for manipulating an image of King Norodom Sihamoni to place him in a gay porn scene. The image, which appeared on some Facebook accounts in Cambodia and Thailand, is a rare public insult to the king, who is largely respected and deemed above the political fray. The country’s constitution describes him as “inviolable”. “If we don’t take action against them, more people might follow their act,” said General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Interior.

What next? The general declined to specify which law the three suspects might have broken but said: “The king represents the whole nation and they are insulting the king, which is like they are insulting the whole nation.” He added that authorities would consider asking for help from Bangkok. King Sihamoni ascended the throne in 2004 following the abdication of his father King Norodom Sihanouk. Observers say he has ruled quietly as a constitutional monarch, fulfilling a symbolic role as head of state and staying away from domestic politics.

Cambodian police hunt three suspects who photoshopped king into gay porn scene

Apple removes New York Times apps from sale in mainland China

Tech giant Apple removed English and Chinese news apps created by The New York Times from its software shop for mainland China.“We have been informed that the app is in violation of local regulations,” said Fred Sainz, an Apple spokesman, declining to comment on what regulations the apps were said to have violated.

What next? The government began blocking Times websites in 2012 after articles on the wealth of former premier Wen Jiabao’s family. Farzana Aslam, from the University of Hong Kong’s faculty of law, said on privacy matters, Apple usually requires governments to submit subpoenas, search warrants or other documents.

Apple pulls New York Times app from iTunes store in China

Compiled by Benjamin O’Rourke