One dies as police clear Manila dump

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The Independent Online

Associated Press

Manila - One person was killed and dozens hurt yesterday as slum dwellers clashed with police trying to clear Manila's "Smokey Mountain", the city's notorious rubbish tip, for housing development. Shouting "this land is ours," hundreds fought police and demolition crews with stones, guns, arrows and firebombs.

Hospital officials said Ricardo Villarente died of a gunshot to the head. His wife denied that Villarente shot arrows at the demolition team.

Father Ben Beltran, parish priest of Smokey Mountain, said Villarente was one of his lay leaders, who had moved out of the garbage dump to live nearby. Villarente "was walking with his son, whom he had fetched from a relative's house in Smokey Mountain" when he was shot.

At least 18 people were arrested and charged with creating tumult. Colonel Cipriano Herrera, police chief of the Tondo district, said Smokey Mountain had been infiltrated by police agents who reported that armed men were preparing to face the demolition teams.

A presidential press secretary, Hector Villanueva, said the demolition will continue despite the violence. Only a "militant minority" was resisting the housing project and President Fidel Ramos has ordered an investigation of the clash.