North Korea tensions: US submarine arrives in South Korea

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  • As ”Mass murder” complaint is filed against Philippines President

A US submarine has arrived in South Korea, amid worries of another North Korean missile or nuclear test.

The missile-armed USS Michigan is set to join an incoming group of warships led by aircraft carrier Carl Vinson.

North Korea is celebrating its army’s 85th founding anniversary on Tuesday. It marked the event with a large-scale firing drill, South Korea said.

Tensions have risen in the area in recent weeks, with the US and North Korea exchanging heated rhetoric.

Experts fear Pyongyang could be planning more tests – it has marked some key anniversaries in the past with nuclear tests or missile launches.

However, South Korea’s defence ministry said “no unusual development had been detected”.

Instead, the North conducted a large live-fire drill around the city of Wonsan, South Korea said.

“Our military is closely monitoring the North Korean military’s movement,” the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

North Korea conducted a failed ballistic missile test on 16 April, prompting US Vice-President Mike Pence to warn it not to “test” President Donald Trump.

In an unusual move, the entire US Senate has been asked to attend a briefing on North Korea on Wednesday at the White House.

The USS Michigan docked at South Korea’s Busan port on Tuesday, in what it called a routine visit. It is a nuclear-powered submarine carrying 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles and 60 special operations troops and mini-subs, reported the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

In the meantime,  a Filipino lawyer has filed a complaint in the International Criminal Court (ICC) accusing President Rodrigo Duterte of mass murder and crimes against humanity, the media reported on Tuesday.

In the first publicly known filing to The Hague court against Duterte, lawyer Jude Sabio on Monday submitted the 77-page complaint that said the President had “repeatedly, unchangingly and continuously” committed extra-judicial executions or mass murders over three decades, amounting to crimes against humanity, reports the Guardian.

It says the killing of 9,400 people began in 1988 when Duterte was Mayor of Davao city and has lasted throughout his 10 months so far as President, during which he has waged a virulent and bloody “war on drugs”.

The communication is based on the reports of human rights groups, Duterte`s own public admissions that he killed, media reports and the testimony of Sabio`s client Edgar Matobato, a man who testified in the Philippines senate that he was part of a hit squad that operated on Duterte`s orders.

The complaint also referred to testimony from retired police officer Arturo Lascanas, another hitman who said he personally killed “about 200 people” as a member of the Davao Death Squad.

The organisation, Lascanas has said, regularly took direct orders from then-Mayor Duterte to kill criminals, political opponents, and journalists.

The ICC office of the prosecutor said in a statement that it had received a communication, the Guardian reported.

“We will analyse it as appropriate. As soon as we reach a decision, we will inform the sender and provide reasons for our decision,” the office said.

Ernesto Abella, a spokesman for Duterte, dismissed the complaint as a “cynical effort” to undermine the President.

The 72-year-old leader has led a bloody campaign against drugs that has left more than 7,000 people dead since June 2016, mostly suspected low-level dealers and alleged addicts.

BBC with additional report from Zee

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