Philippine police kill 32 in 'shock and awe' drug raids

Philippine police killed 32 people in "shock and awe" raids aimed at scaring drug traffickers, authorities said Aug. 16, after President Rodrigo Duterte admitted to setbacks in his controversial crime war.

Duterte has waged an unprecedented crackdown on drugs during his 14 months in power that has seen police and suspected vigilantes kill thousands of people, leading to warnings by rights groups that he may be overseeing a crime against humanity.

In one of the deadliest operations of the war, police reported killing 32 people in a series of raids Aug. 14 on suspected drug traffickers across Bulacan province, which neighbours the capital of Manila.

"We wanted to shock and awe these drug personalities," Romeo Caramat, the Bulacan police chief, told reporters in Manila on Aug. 16, adding 109 suspects had also been arrested.

"Other drug personalities will think twice before continuing with their drug trade."   

Caramat insisted the police had only killed the suspects in self defence, and highlighted in the press conference that pistols and grenades had been seized in the raids.

"We know we have done nothing wrong," Caramat said.

He later told AFP that no police had been killed or wounded.  
When asked how it was possible there had been no police wounded if the raiding officers had been acting in self defence when killing 32 people, Caramat said: "Don't ask me to explain".

Duterte easily won last year's presidential election largely on a vow to kill tens of thousands of drug traffickers and addicts, which he said was necessary to stop the country's slide to narco-state status.

Duterte promised during the campaign he would win his drug war in three to six months, a vow that...

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