Police battle protesters in Philippines slum riot

Philippine slum dwellers hurling rocks, improvised explosives and human excrement fought running battles with riot police Monday around a sprawling Manila shanty town that is set for redevelopment, an AFP photographer saw.

Police said an officer was hospitalised with a head injury while several residents of the North Triangle slum were briefly detained, though none were charged and were later released.

Police moved in as traffic backed up after squatters erected barricades across a street, said the district's police chief, Senior Superintendent Richard Albano.

"We arrested some people, but later decided to release them," Albano told ABS-CBN television in an interview.

Residents hurled projectiles at officers who baton-charged them from behind shields.

An AFP photographer said rocks, spikes and nails packed in small containers, as well as faeces, were hurled at the police.

Television also showed police firing what appeared to be tear gas at the rioters, who were reined in just before midday.

Slums, as well as riots sparked by government efforts to clear them, are prominent features of Philippine cities. Nearly a third of the population is considered poor.

The 29-hectare (72-acre) North Triangle area had previously housed 10,000 squatter families, according to city mayor Herbert Bautista. About 8,000 families were relocated with government help in the past two years, he said.

The government plans to redevelop it in partnership with a big real estate firm into a 65-billion-peso ($1.5-billion) central business district, with the first phase set to be completed in three years.

Leah Valencia, leader of a support group for the squatters, told AFP they were protesting at a formal notice to leave the property by June 30.

She said the holdouts complained the relocation site was too far from Manila, where they scraped a living in construction and other low-paying jobs. Most are migrants from the provinces and some have lived in the slum for 30 years, she added.

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