Tigray province is the epicenter of conflict with China
TIGRAY — The Tigray province government has said that the conflict between China and the Philippines over a disputed area has resulted in the deaths of at least 15 people, most of them local civilians.
The government in Tigray on Wednesday issued a statement that said it had received the death toll from local authorities on Wednesday from the country’s Anti-Terrorism Commission.
The Tigray provincial government is the only one of the 10 provinces in the Philippines with official ties to China, and has been the site of a major military buildup since the start of the Chinese military’s occupation of the Philippines in 1946.
The statement said the casualties were caused by an “attempt to take advantage of the situation in the area to advance the territorial dispute.”
The statement did not give the names of the victims.
A spokesman for the Tigray government said the Philippine military had been deployed to the disputed area, which was part of the Aquino administration’s territorial claims to the area.
It was not immediately clear what the Chinese were trying to achieve by the military presence, the spokesman said.
The Philippine military has been on high alert since last month when the Chinese troops moved in.
Chinese forces also began building up in the region, including a massive military base on the island of Pag-dala, near where the Tigrean province is located.