Australian journalist ‘lucky’ after Philippine shooting


An Australian television journalist was shot in the neck as he reported from a southern Philippine city where Islamist militants are battling government troops.

Adam Harvey, a reporter for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, wrote on Twitter: “Lucky”, alongside an image of an X-ray showing the bullet lodged in his neck, close to his spine.

“Thanks everyone – I’m okay. Bullet is still in my neck, but it missed everything important,” he said in another Twitter post.

Mr Harvey was shot in Marawi, the most important Muslim city in the mainly Catholic Philippines where government forces are struggling to defeat hundreds of militants fighting under the black flags of the so-called Islamic State group.

He was inside the provincial capitol compound where local and foreign journalists have congregated during the more than three weeks of fighting, the government’s crisis management committee spokesman said.

Although the compound is secured by the military, it is only about 2km from the pockets of the city that the gunmen control.

Mr Harvey was taken to the nearby city of Iligan for medical treatment.

At least 26 civilians and 58 security forces have died in the conflict, according to authorities. They say more than 200 militants have been killed.

The city of 200,000 people has been largely abandoned due to the fighting, which has seen the military relentlessly bomb the areas held by the militants, with residents fleeing to nearby towns.

However hundreds of civilians are trapped in the militant-controlled areas with some being used as human shields, according to the military.

Meanwhile, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has withdrawn from public duties this week because he is tired and needs to “rejuvenate”, his spokesman said.

Mr Duterte, 72, has not been seen in public since Sunday and missed a scheduled appearance the following day at annual Independence Day celebrations in Manila, sparking speculation about the state of his health.

“He’s just taking some time off to rejuvenate,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella told reporters.

He said there was no date for when Mr Duterte would resume his official duties, although he insisted the president was healthy.

“I’m saying that there’s nothing to worry about in terms of sickness,” he said.

“The president is well.”

Mr Duterte was last seen in the southern city of Cagayan de Oro, visiting soldiers wounded in fighting in nearby Marawi.

Mr Duterte imposed martial law over Marawi and the rest of the southern region of Mindanao, home to 20 million people, on the day the fighting erupted to head off what he said was an attempt by IS to carve out its own territory there.

Mr Abella said Mr Duterte was taking time off because of a punishing schedule since then, which included regular visits to military camps and hospitals to support troops.

Mr Duterte had repeatedly denied during last year’s presidential election campaign that he suffered from cancer.

However he said last December that he used to take fentanyl, a highly addictive synthetic opioid, to ease the pain of a spinal injury that he suffered in motorcycle accidents many years earlier.

He said then his doctor made him stop using it on learning he was “abusing the drug” by using more than the prescribed amount.

Mr Duterte’s fentanyl comments attracted controversy as he has led a war on drugs in which thousands of addicts and users have been killed.

Under the constitution, the separately elected vice president shall act as president if the incumbent dies, is permanently disabled or removed from office.



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